(—“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”—The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Voting is not a privilege. It is a fundamental, constitutionally ratified right afforded to all eligible citizens. The right to elect your federal, state and local representatives and weigh in on proposed local policies via ballot measures is the very definition of democracy: rule by the people. Laws that deny eligible men and women the right to the ballot, legislation that strips the power vested in the people to elect their representatives and decide their collective fate contradicts that central definition and cripples our republic.

It is a shame that as we prepare to celebrate the 241st anniversary of that momentous occasion when our fledging nation famously declared its independence from England and pledged allegiance to a republic governed by the people, we remain caught in the clutches of a debate as old as the founding of these united states: whether to expand or limit access to the franchise.

Today, legislation and prejudicial partisan tactics that disenfranchise communities of color and groups perceived to be progressive voters are on the rise. Restrictions on voter registration, including the elimination of same-day registration, strict voter ID laws, and limiting or eliminating early voting are some of the tools in the toolbox that dismantle our democracy.

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