Turnout in non-presidential election years is notoriously low and laws that may make it more difficult for some people to cast ballots could reduce it even more. But Democrats, not wanting a repeat of 2010, when Republicans took control of state legislatures across the country and the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, are pulling out the stops in the hope Americans will vote more like it's 2008 or 2012, when they turned out in record numbers.
In a new push to promote the Democratic National Committee's Voter Expansion Project, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Texas state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner talked about the impact that alleged voter suppression efforts have on all voters, particularly women.
According to Rawlings-Blake, who is secretary of the Democratic National Committee, nearly one-third of American women may face obstacles when registering to vote or casting ballots because "their name may have changed following a marriage or divorce or their middle initial represents a maiden name rather than a middle name" and they don't have the documentation.
Reduced early voting days and hours also present a challenge for working mothers, she said, particularly those who are also single and struggle to balance work schedules and childcare.
"This notion of getting more people involved in the process is one of the most fundamental values that we share as Democrats. Our democracy is only as strong as the people who participate in it. No demographic is more negatively impacted by voting restrictions than women," said Rawlings-Blake, adding that, "Democrats are standing up for those women to make sure their votes are heard."
The Voter Expansion Project, announced in February, is part of a nationwide effort to educate voters about their rights, train campaign and poll workers and fight in court state laws that threaten to disenfranchise voters.
"The mission is very clear: We're going to ensure that every eligible voter can register and that every registered voter can vote and that every vote is counted accurately," Rawlings-Blake added.
Turner, who is running for Ohio secretary of state, chastised Republicans "who seek to regress, oppress and suppress the right to vote," especially given the nation's history and the personal and human sacrifices people have made to ensure equal access to the ballot box.
"There is only one great equalizer in this nation where your socio-economic status, your gender, who you love, what you do doesn't matter and that's the ballot box. That is the place where we are equal – one man, one woman, one vote," she said. "So to have folks who were elected to office to serve, to create public policies that create avenues of opportunity try to rig the game through the ballot box is un-American and it is unconscionable."
Come November, Turner warned, women "will remember what the GOP has done."
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(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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