Enhance Voting Rights to Fix Our Democracy

February 13, 2021 6:00am
Photo of Mary Mancini
Democratic National Committee Correspondent

Also this: A Trump conviction in the Senate will likely not happen

Most DNC members believe overwhelmingly that ending voter suppression and enhancing voting rights are the single most important democratic reform the nation should be addressing.

“Getting money out of politics” was seen as the second most important, followed by redistricting reform in third. The remaining five choices received few votes and the option to “Restore Civility” was so chilly that none of you voted for it.

Meanwhile, as most of us are glued to the television screen even as we speak, DNC Power Poll respondents do not believe that enough Republican senators will join with Democrats to vote to convict former president Donald Trump in his current impeachment trial. More than three-quarters think our former president will once again skate free.

A slim majority of you favor ending the Senate filibuster, with only 18% opposing its repeal. And (more on this later), a number of you were more than happy to write in what you think should be the DNC’s highest priority between now and 2022. (We will run most of those verbatim at the end of this piece.)

Here are the specific questions and responses to the inaugural February DNC Power Poll on "Good Government and Reforming our Democracy."A total of 290 DNC members were sent the email survey. 57 responded, for a response rate of 19.66%.

Our American democracy faces serious challenges. Which democratic reform is the most crucial and should be addressed first?

Abolish the Electoral College: 5.3%
End Citizens United (Get Money Out of Politics): 22.8%
End Voter Suppression/Enhance Voting Rights: 42.1%
Media Reform (Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine/Reform Media Ownership Rules/etc.): 3.5%
Redistricting Reform: 17.5%
Restore Civility: 0%
Teach Civics/Low-information Voters: 5.3%
Other: 3.5%

Do you support or oppose ending the Senate Filibuster?

Support: 50.9%
Oppose: 17.5%
Don't Know: 31.6%

Do you think the U.S. Senate will vote to impeach former President Trump?

Yes: 10.5%
No: 77.2%
Don't Know: 12.3%

The Power Poll is not a scientific survey. Rather, Power Poll aggregates the opinions and beliefs of the most powerful, influential, and significant individuals in numerous cities and in various industry verticals. The responses generated by Power Poll are important factors in determining where our local, state, and national leaders are steering us. Power Poll is non-partisan. To see the membership of the DNC Power Poll, which includes virtually every DNC member, click here.


Most members believe overwhelmingly that ending voter suppression and enhancing voting rights are the single most important democratic reform the nation should be addressing. And with the pipepline of money in politics spewing dollars everywhere, “Get Money Out of Politics” was seen as the second most important, followed by redistricting reform in third. Only a small percentage of you believe that abolishing the electoral college would do the trick. Likewise, “Teach Civics” and “Media Reform” received just a handful of votes, showing a clear preference for tangible solutions rather than indeterminate obstacles. “Restore Civility” received no votes, which doesn’t necessarily mean you like the division. It’s more likely that as political veterans you understand politics from an insider’s perspective. The emphasis on reforms that affect non-presidential elections shows a clear desire to continue organization and progress at the local and state level. (You’ll see more of this trend later as most of the answers to the DNC priority questions also emphasize local organizing and investment.)

A majority of you favor ending the Senate filibuster (or "vrijbuiter," meaning “pirate” in its original Dutch), with only 18% in opposition. It seems that most of you agree with the more than 60 progressive groups who recently sent a letter to Majority Leader Schumer asking him to put an end to it.

Past is prologue. There is what appears to be a strong desire to correct a dark time in our history in the group’s answers to the first and second questions. Democrats lost the South partly because of the expansion of voting rights, a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1957, Southern Democrat Strom Thurmond used the filibuster to obstruct the expansion of voting rights in the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Now, in 2021, we find ourselves entering a period in which parts of the South (Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia) are once again a battleground. And your answer for moving us forward is to enhance voting rights.
The third question on impeachment requires a major correction (thanks to one of you smarties for bringing it to our attention). The House does the impeaching, not the Senate. The Senate decides to convict or acquit. Nonetheless, we think you knew what we were asking and more than three-quarters of you believe he will not be convicted. We’re going to go out on a limb here and conclude that your answers are based on the dynamics of the “jury” and not because you believe he’s innocent of the charge.

To conclude, I wanted to end with the ton of input we got from DNC members in answer to the question, “If you could wave a magic wand, what would be the DNC’s highest priority between now and 2022?” While some of you focused on the internal and administrative structure of the DNC, most gave voice to the hunger for more input, activity, and investment on the local and state level—a hunger no doubt fueled by the successes of this cycle’s red-to-blue states, flipped districts, and progressive wins on the local level. I thought I would just run most of them verbatim so you can see what your fellow DNC members have on their minds. Here goes.

  • Winning more seats in Congress and in state legislatures 
  • I wish the DNC would focus on redistricting—by making noise, lawsuits or working with reasonable Republicans who also want to prevent extremists from winning in super lopsided districts. 
  • Build out robust, sustainable organizing programs in Rural America and Latin-X communities. 
  • Working to recruit and retain Democrats in office, while ensuring that voter suppression is addressed, should be one of our goals. 
  • Stop flying over any states.
  • Implementing a plan to register and communicate with voters in rural areas across the country. 
  • Invest in state parties
  • Do what it takes to win senate and increase house dem numbers
  • Assist southern states with the finances and tools to turn them blue
  • Restoring trust in the DNC. This includes both bolstering state parties in all 50 states (and I am liking what I am hearing from chair Harrison so far) and making the DNC more transparent, e.g., disclosing the names of all its members.
  • 50-state strategy, with strong & growing support for state Democratic parties (as we saw with the SPIF grants)
  • Rural outreach and organizing. We can't be a party that only appeals to urban and suburban places. Rural America needs Democrats. Democrats need rural America.
  • Supporting state parties doing field organizing and community outreach work in 2021.
  • Increase base support of state parties.
  • Bolstering support for state parties. We can't win without this. 
  • Empowering state and local Dem parties.
  • The 75 at-large DNC Members should be elected—as required by the bylaws—in an open and free election. Currently, the 75 at-large DNC Members are basically appointed. The DNC Chair and/or the White House should not propose a slate of candidates, it should be up to rank-and-file DNC Members as per the bylaws.
  • County based party building with goals for registering unaffiliateds and getting functioning precinct leaders in all 3000 counties
  • Financial and organizational support for State/Territorial and County Parties.
  • Get laser focused on retaining the House and Senate and on expanding our representation in each body.
  • Deep organizing across 50 states, increased activity to accelerate Sun Belt realignment.
  • Model our campaign like Fair Fight working with community groups now.
  • Win state legislatures
  • To fundraise specifically for Native American tribes that will increase their civics education and ultimately increase voter turnout...tribal communities, when engaged, will turn out the vote. Look at 2020, it took less than 5 grassroots mobilizers (Maricopa County, NE Arizona, Southern AZ) to increase voter turnout around the battleground state. It was people of color in AZ who made the outcome of the 2020 Election happen. 
  • Internally, I think the DNC should implement reforms to the way voting for officers takes place. It has been the tradition that the incoming Democratic President picks their officers. However, it doesn't state in the bylaws that they are allowed that privilege. A more open process should be discussed. Also, the nomination and elections of At-Large members should be examined along with revamping the caucus process in an election year. As members who represent our state respectively, we should be allowed more "buy-in" into the decision processes of the Democratic Party. 
  • Build out party infrastructure from the bottom up to ensure that Democrats are elected on the local, state, and federal levels. 
  • Building at local level.
  • 50 State strategy to engage rural and urban voters in a common sense message to the party.
  • More significant funding for red state programs that target rural and Native populations. 
  • Actually initiate a 50-state strategy regardless of states being red or blue. Make additional monthly/grant investments into state parties for activities like canvassing - i.e. 2017 Resistance summer but better and longer lasting, so it can roll into a coordinated campaign structure naturally. Talking to voters is the ultimate equalizer, whether it be directed at voter registration, political and issue-based ID of voters, message testing, or all of the above (and more).
  • In short: The DNC needs to be 1) accountable to their promised investments in state parties...and 2) expand financial investment into states based on state party needs and projects.
  • Voter protection financial resources to under-resourced states with statewide elections on the ballot
  • Raise funds to increase our numbers from local to national offices
  • Expand Democrat base by eliminating voter suppression and Increasing voter registration. 
  • More resources for state parties 
  • Retaking state legislatures and governorships 
  • Assist states with Latino outreach. In particular states with smaller Latino population...including Latinos in the political process (not just one or two Latinos but communities). Including Latinos in training to run for office and support qualified Latinos. Provide an opportunity for Latinos to obtain training so they can be hired as campaign organizers within their own community. 
  • Assist in recruiting candidates who can win in the South.
  • Invest in red states.
  • Investing on the ground in communities of color in key battleground states. These investments proved the difference for Dems to take the White House in 2020 and I would double down on it. Also, invest in offices in rural areas in key states. Wisconsin could open 20 rural field offices and we could beat candidates like Ron Johnson and re-Elect Gov Evers. 
  • Building the state and county party infrastructure


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