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Democracy Wins at the Ballot Box with Voting Rights Expansion in 2018 Midterms

League Celebrates Voting Rights Victories in Florida, Maryland, and Michigan

Washington, DC – Voters Tuesday cast ballots on issues from healthcare to marijuana use, but when it came to issues of elections, voters overwhelmingly selected to expand voting rights.  

“The American people overwhelmingly want to see a democracy where every eligible voter has the opportunity to participate,” said Chris Carson, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “We are encouraged that so many ballot initiatives and proposals to expand voting rights passed on Tuesday. Voting should be easy and accessible. Politicians should take note: voters want free and fair elections.” 

By approving Amendment 4, voters in Florida restored the rights of former felons to vote, granting nearly 1.4 million Floridians the power to cast their ballot on candidates who represent them and issues that affect them. The Florida League of Women Voters was actively engaged in the campaign for Amendment 4, which also allowed them the opportunity to connect with and register new voters all across the state.

“Amendment 4 passed with support from voters of all political persuasions because Floridians believe that once someone has paid their debt to society, that debt is paid off,” said Patti Brigham, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. 

In Maryland, a League-endorsed constitutional amendment to instate same-day registration passed with strong support. 

“The League has long supported the removal of barriers that may prevent citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote,” said Elaine Apter, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.  

Michigan voters elected to amend their state’s constitution to add a variety of voting provisions, including no-reason absentee voting by mail and same-day voter registration. Leagues in Michigan traveled the entire state to educate voters about all of the initiatives on their ballot.  

“The League urged a YES vote on Proposal 3, which provides a common-sense approach to removing barriers to voting for working families, safeguarding our elections and putting voters first,” said Judy Karandjeff, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. "Our volunteers helped draft and circulate petitions statewide, and through our coalition work we fought for this measure in court. We couldn't be more proud of the state-wide effort led by the League and our partners on behalf of the voters of Michigan." 

Unfortunately, there were also places where voting rights took a step backwards, with the passage of photo ID requirements in Arkansas and North Carolina. 

“Voter ID laws do nothing to improve our elections, but they do exclude eligible voters from participating in our democracy,” said Carson. “They fall hardest on the elderly, veterans, young people, and communities of color. We are disappointed that voters in these states will now have more barriers at the ballot box in future elections.”

With 2020 on the horizon, redistricting victories in Tuesday’s election mean some states will see new maps in place before the next federal election. 

“The state Leagues in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah worked hard to reach voters and build support for the initiatives that will create fair independent maps that reflect the makeup of communities, not the interests of politicians,” said Carson.  

Voters in Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri overwhelmingly passed their states’ initiatives that will create new congressional district lines free from partisan and racial gerrymandering. As of Thursday morning, the redistricting initiative in Utah was still too close to call.

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Contact: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]