As Americans confront new barriers to voting, philanthropy must step up and do more to protect the right to vote for all eligible citizens, a report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York argues.
The report, Voting Rights Under Fire: Philanthropy's Role in Protecting and Strengthening American Democracy (28 pages, PDF), highlights current threats to voting rights across the country and calls on philanthropic organizations to support work aimed at ensuring that all citizens can participate in elections at the local, state, and national levels. Although the philanthropic community has worked alongside government for decades to protect voting rights, since 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, it has become more difficult to protect the right to vote for certain voters, with many states having introduced onerous registration and voter identification laws.
In response to the changed environment, the report urges funders to step up their support for democracy and voting infrastructure; provide sustained, multiyear funding for election monitoring efforts and more voter-friendly policies; support litigation that challenges voting restrictions; and support greater collaboration among voting rights groups.
"As we approach 2020, this report is a critical summary of the challenges and opportunities for voting and how they have changed over time," writes Geri Mannion, director of the foundation's strengthening democracy and special opportunities fund, in the report's foreword. "We hope they will encourage policy makers to increase voter turnout and protect our democracy — both from foreign interference and partisan efforts to curtail the freedom to vote....Your vote is your voice."