“If democracy is to be strengthened, we must address the needs of state and local officials,” says Debbie Cox Bultan, CEO of the NewDEAL Forum.
Contact: Jonathon Dworkin (NewDEAL)
202-660-1340 x5, firstname.lastname@example.org
Philadelphia, PA (May 24, 2022) – The NewDEAL Forum has launched the Democracy Working Group at a convening of rising state and local policymakers from across the country. The group, consisting of elected officials and experts intimately familiar with our election systems, will highlight the vital role state and local officials play in our elections, including where, how, and when Americans can vote. A first convening of the group took place at the NewDEAL Ideas Summit in Philadelphia, where a discussion among state and local elected officials was led by co-chairs County Commissioner Ken Lawrence (Montgomery County, PA) and Assemblymember Sandra Jauregui (Las Vegas Valley, NV).
“Since the 2020 election, many states have taken repeated, intentional actions to both make it harder for Americans to vote and easier to subvert the will of the people after the votes are cast,” said Debbie Cox Bultan, CEO of the NewDEAL Forum, at the launch of the working group. “Amid these attacks on democracy, state and local officials from legislators to executives to county clerks play a critical role in protecting Americans’ fundamental rights and maintaining the integrity of our elections. The Democracy Working Group will give state and local leaders a forum to share ideas and the tools and information they need to resist those who would undermine our democracy.”
More than 440 bills to restrict the right to vote were introduced in 49 states during the 2021 legislative session, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Of those, more than 30 bills to restrict voting access were passed and signed into law. The nonprofit organization called the slew of laws “extraordinary,” noting that it was the largest quantity of anti-voting laws enacted since the group started tracking such laws in 2011.
“Pennsylvania has seen some of the most dramatic efforts to undermine election integrity, and our experience in 2020 demonstrated the vital role of local officials in protecting the democratic process,” said Commissioner Lawrence, who set the context for the Working Group’s priorities. “The Democracy Working Group will focus on ways to combat injustices and ensure that all Americans are able to exercise their most fundamental right: the right to vote.”
“The time to act is now,” said Assemblymember Jauregui, who spoke at the event about the progress Nevada has made since 2019 with laws such as automatic and same-day voter registration. “While voter suppression laws were passed, so were laws to expand access to voting. In those places, we need to share policies and ideas to make sure voters are aware of all their opportunities to vote – whether early in-person, in-person on Election Day, or by mail.”
The Democracy Working Group will focus on efforts to protect voter rights; secure and expand access to the ballot box for every eligible voter; ensure election integrity; address security, and promote civic education and engagement. The working group will pay special attention to communities that historically have faced voter suppression efforts, including voters of color.
The NewDEAL Forum has a strong track record of bringing together policy experts and elected officials to promote forward-looking policy recommendations. The Democracy Working Group will join other initiatives focused on broadband, climate change, education, and the future of work, as well as a Renewing American Task Force.
About NewDEAL Forum
The NewDEAL Forum is a Washington-DC-based non-profit organization which identifies and promotes innovative, future-oriented state and local pro-growth progressive policies that can improve the lives of all Americans. By facilitating the identification and spread of policy ideas, the NewDEAL Forum seeks to foster economic growth, reduce barriers to opportunity, and promote good government in communities throughout the country.
Its sister organization, the NewDEAL, supports a network of about 200 state and local officials — statewide officials, legislators, mayors, council members, and other local leaders across the country — who are pro-growth progressives. The organization brings together leaders focused on expanding opportunity, helping them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is broadly-earned and sustainable.