Sen. Mike Gronstal Attends 50-State Voting Rights Policy Summit

american values first“Being among the top five states in the nation for voter turnout, Iowa is a unique position when it comes to ensuring access to the polls,” said Iowa State Senator Mike Gronstal (D – Council Bluffs), Voting Rights Project Task Force member.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 4, 2013) – Marking an important milestone in fulfilling American Values First’s vision for its nationwide Voting Rights Project, a select group of legislators comprising the Project’s Task Force met in Washington, DC today to develop the following policy agenda to guide legislative efforts in all 50 states:

  • Election Day registration
  • Automated registration
  • Portable registration
  • Pre-registering students to vote
  • Online registration
  • Eligibility of college students/Polling places on campus
  • Expand early voting
  • Fair allocation of polling places/machines to reduce long lines
  • Vote by mail
  • No-excuse absentee voting
  • Permanent absentee voting

This Voting Rights Policy Agenda includes a range of initiatives that can be implemented in the states as legislators deem appropriate.

“Being among the top five states in the nation for voter turnout, Iowa is a unique position when it comes to ensuring access to the polls,” said Iowa State Senator Mike Gronstal (D – Council Bluffs), Voting Rights Project Task Force member.

“The reason is clear: the Iowa state legislature actively works to encourage, promote and allow early voting and same-day registration.  Also we have taken measures to ensure that our voter registration system is accessible to all political parties so that each may encourage their members to get out the vote.  While we are proud that of what we have done here in Iowa, we know that other states are only beginning to envision the types of policies that are institutionalized in our state.”

“This is why the American Value First Voting Rights Project is so important.  It is though policy summits such as this that we will be able to share our accomplishments with others so that they may envision a path forward in their own states.”

“Today’s summit brought together legislators to share the success and challenges they have experienced in their respective states, so that they can use those experiences to craft a vision for their own states,” said Michael Sargeant, President of American Values First.

“Incremental gains are possible in all 50 states, and as members of the Task Force return to their home states, this strategy will produce more examples of success that can be adopted across the United States.”

“Our goal is to empower state legislators nationwide to protect the rights of all eligible American citizens to vote,” said Michael Sargeant, President of American Values First.  “Some states are already having this important debate;  others seek incremental gains to improve voting laws in a way that fully enfranchises their citizens.  Events like today’s will help to fulfill the promise of the Voting Rights Project.”

This first Task Force Policy Summit on Voting Rights was organized by the non-profit American Values First to foster discussion, share information and exchange ideas about the challenges lawmakers will have to overcome and opportunities in state legislative chambers to protect the rights of eligible American citizens to vote.

The summit comes at a critical time when states have aggressively and swiftly adopted laws that create barriers to the voting booth. The Brennan Center for Justice says these laws disproportionately affect seniors, military personnel, low-income citizens, the disabled, minorities and students.

American Values First is a non-profit organization that created the Voting Rights Project to engage state legislators in preserving the right to vote even as states endeavor to weaken voting rights protections.

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