Voting Rights Institute

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After the 2000 election, the DNC's Voting Rights Institute (VRI) was formed to protect and enforce the right of every American to vote and to ensure that the Constitution's promise is fully realized and that, in disputed elections, every vote is counted fully and fairly.

To advance these goals and to guarantee the integrity of our elections and to increase voter confidence, VRI will seek action to ensure that voting systems are accessible, independently auditable, accurate, and secure. Additionally, VRI funds programs to realize these goals.

It is the priority of the Democratic Party to fulfill the promise of election reform, reauthorize the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and vigorously enforce all our voting rights laws.

A review of 2000 showed three problems: Voter Education, Voter Turnout and Voter Protection. During the 2004 presidential election cycle, VRI worked to increase voter participation and ensure every vote counted because Americans deserve elections free of errors, intimidation and voter disenfranchisement.

Voter Education. In 2000, many citizens cast unintended votes because the ballots they were given were unclear. VRI educates voters with trainings and guides on topics ranging from registration deadlines to the mechanics of casting a vote on the voting machine used in their area. Education programs were reinforced with voter protection PSAs, GOTV literature, radio and phones.

Voter Turnout. In 2000, 175 million people were eligible to vote but only 100 million actually voted. VRI helped motivate voters with the message that "every vote counts and every vote will be counted." Intensive early and absentee vote, and vote by mail programs were implemented using comprehensive phone banks, door-to-door canvassing, and rides to the polls programs for Election Day.

Voter Protection. In 2000, 4 to 6 million votes were tossed out for one reason or another. In addition, voters across the country were asked, contrary to law, to present several forms of identification in order to receive a ballot. During the 2004 presidential election cycle, VRI deployed 18,000 lawyers across the country to protect voters' rights and deter voter disenfranchisement.

As written in the VRI 2004 program summary.

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