Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Brazile: Why I am a Democrat and why your vote should count

By Donna Brazile
updated 10:59 AM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
The DNC is launching the Voter Expansion Project to help ensure voters rights.
The DNC is launching the Voter Expansion Project to help ensure voters rights.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Donna Brazile was inspired by Barbara Jordan to fight for voters rights
  • She is launching a project to ensure that everyone can vote and all votes get counted
  • Brazile: "We're moving beyond simply protecting the vote"

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) -- In her 1976 keynote address to the Democratic National Committee, Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan said words I will never forget:

"We believe that the people are the source of all governmental power; that the authority of the people is to be extended, not restricted. This can be accomplished only by providing each citizen with every opportunity to participate in the management of the government.

"We believe that the government which represents the authority of all the people, not just one interest group, but all the people, has an obligation to actively seek to remove those obstacles which would block individual achievement -- obstacles emanating from race, sex, economic condition."

That explains why I am a Democrat.

Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile

Beyond that, ensuring every American's right to vote and working to get out the vote -- every vote, regardless of party -- has been a lifelong goal, a personal quest.

Today, unfortunately, the right to vote seems to have become a partisan issue. Democrats seek to guarantee and expand voting rights. Republicans try to undermine and suppress voting rights.

It wasn't always this way. In 1965 when President Johnson realized that the previous year's Civil Rights Act was not enough, that the country needed a Voting Rights Act to protect the rights of citizens -- particularly blacks and minorities -- he called on the minority leader, Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, for help.

Clinton helps launch push against voter 'restrictions'

Dirksen responded, and the bill passed. His words remain relevant: "The right to vote is still an issue in this free country. There has to be a real remedy. This cannot go on forever, this denial of the right to vote by ruses and devices and tests and whatever the mind can contrive to either make it very difficult or to make it impossible to vote."

We agree. That is why I am proud to be launching the Democratic National Committee's new initiative -- the Voter Expansion Project -- where we are taking action to expand voting opportunities for all. We're moving beyond simply protecting the vote and becoming the leader in expanding the vote.

The Voter Expansion Project's mission is clear: Ensure that every eligible citizen can register, every registered voter can vote, and every vote is accurately counted.

Democrats push for minimum wage hike
Cruz: Congress tries to trick voters
GOP's surrender on debt ceiling

Let me repeat that -- our mission is to ensure that every eligible citizen can register, every registered voter can vote, and every vote is accurately counted. I believe in the marketplace of ideas. I also believe that every citizen should have equal access -- through their voice and their vote.

Today, too many Republicans are making it harder for working Americans, students, women, people of color and the elderly to participate in the process. In states like Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin and many others, we see Republican-controlled legislatures engaged in voter suppression efforts, such as curtailing early voting, requiring restrictive IDs, etc.

That's not the American way. As Ronald Reagan said, "For this nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American's vote to be denied, diluted or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished."

So as an American, I invite Independents and, yes, Republicans to join us. In fact, I ask my Republican friends -- and adversaries -- to answer Dirksen's challenge -- "How then shall there be government by the people if some of the people cannot speak?" Answer it as he did -- by working for the people, by trusting the people -- all the people.

But let me also be clear: As a Democrat and as an American, I don't believe we can wait. I am committed to the Voter Expansion Project because it will expand the vote by creating more access, engage more voters, protect the vote by breaking down barriers, demystify the process and make sure every vote is counted.

More specifically, the Voter Expansion Project has four main goals:
1. Voter education -- train campaign staff, volunteers and voters about the rules and regulations in order to demystify the voting experience
2. Election administration -- work closely with election administrators to ensure they have the training and resources to conduct a fair election
3. Legislation -- advocate for laws that improve the voting experience and increase participation
4. Litigation -- fight laws that make registering to vote and casting a ballot more difficult to decrease participation

We will work with any group that helps further those goals. In addition, the Voter Expansion Project will, on a state-by-state basis, provide a network of voter advocates and a hub of information and best practices. It will provide consulting and advice to individuals and voter advocacy groups. It will also prepare tools and reports that will provide resources for expanding the vote. Finally, it will prepare a "Voter Bill of Rights."

Yes, the Voter Expansion Project is an initiative of the Democratic National Committee. Yes, it will utilize the DNC's experience in voter protection and its resources for voter advocacy.

But every citizen and every civic and political group should be on board with the Voter Expansion Project. Lyndon Johnson, a Texas Democrat, and Everett Dirksen, an Illinois Republican, recognized that expanding the vote benefited both parties and the country. They worked together for that. So should we.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna Brazile.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 7:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT