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Trumka Calls for Universal Voter Registration

Photo by Vincent J. Brown/flickr

The United States should adopt a universal and automatic voter registration system to boost participation and ensure all citizens have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said this morning.

Speaking to the Funders' Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP), Trumka said a strong and growing grassroots democracy movement needs to come together to “push back against the next wave of state-level attacks on the right to vote.” 

In states across the country in recent years, Republican lawmakers have mounted major voter suppression efforts, including restrictions on voter registration; voter photo ID laws that disenfranchise young, minority and older voters; limits on early voting; indiscriminate purges of voter registration rolls and more. 

Automatic voter registration, which is the norm for most of the world’s democracies, can be a major weapon to counter the attacks and “the corporate cash let loose by Citizens United.”

I’m not dropping that idea lightly. We need to fundamentally change access to the ballot. Only about two of three black and white voters are registered, but half—half—of eligible Latinos and Asians are not registered to vote today, and that’s unacceptable. We’re going to do something about it.

He said the AFL-CIO and partners such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Advancement Project, Demos, the NAACP, National Council of La Raza and others are working together to develop a strategy to achieve universal and automatic voter registration.

Trumka said:

Let’s be honest, the opponents of democracy and working people are not going to give up on these tactics. But we can overcome them together. We can overcome them if we are all in.…We need a broad and powerful grassroots movement to renew the promise of the American Dream, to make sure that every working person can—by working hard and playing by the rules—earn a decent paycheck and health care, have a family if they want one, and look forward to a dignified retirement.

Read his full speech here

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