Citizens would be automatically registered to vote, or they could register online or on Election Day, under a comprehensive voting rights proposal unveiled Friday by Mike Bloomberg.
He is the last of the prominent Democratic candidates for president to detail an agenda for making the democratic process work better. The plan was unveiled as Bloomberg took his campaign to Georgia for an appearance with Stacey Abrams, one of the most prominent civil rights advocates in the country.
"The right to vote is the fundamental right that protects all others, but in states around the country it is under attack," Bloomberg said in a statement released by his campaign.
A federal judge has blocked implementation of a new voter identification law set to go into effect in North Carolina, claiming Republican state legislators who authored the bill were intending racial discrimination.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs noted in her ruling on Tuesday that North Carolina "has a sordid history of racial discrimination and voter suppression stretching back to the time of slavery, through the era of Jim Crow, and, crucially, continuing up to the present day."
Biggs blocked use of the voter ID requirement until there is a trial. That, in effect, means North Carolina voters won't have to present an ID when they vote in the state's March 3 primary elections.
Tracking the story of American democracy over the past decade has been a very complex undertaking, dominated by dispiriting accelerations of dysfunction but also punctuated by some developments meriting cautious optimism.
The Supreme Court opened the floodgates of money in politics, turned a blind eye to partisan gerrymandering and paved the way for dozens of measures making it harder to vote in places already marred by histories of political discrimination. Capitol Hill became more gridlocked by tribal partisan animus than ever, even when the topic was fixing the very system in which Congress is supposed to play a vibrant central role. And there's Donald Trump, who won the presidency in an election marked by unparalleled foreign interference and then took busting the norms of a democratic civil society to a whole new level.
At the same time, however, the ever more broken state of affairs in Washington was offset by successes in statehouses and city halls — and by the citizens themselves — at making democracy more equitable and productive for more people. Innovations in public financing of campaigns and election methods that reward consensus candidates were on the rise, while voting rights were returned to almost 2 million felons out of prison. Ballot initiatives and state courts moved against partisan power grabs in legislative mapmaking, allowing more people to pick their politicians, not the other way around.
Finally, the democracy reform movement itself built toward a critical mass of organizational muscle and funding strength. It even generated its own dedicated news site!
To get ready for the 2020s, when the debate over how to put the government more overtly back in the hands of the voters will be more urgent than ever, here's The Fulcrum's take on the top 10 stories about democracy's challenges from the decade now ending, in a somewhat rough chronological order.
In a partisan vote on an issue that once was bipartisan, House Democrats pushed through legislation Friday that would restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House 228-187, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting against it.
The bill faces virtually no chance of being considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.