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NewDEAL Forum lays out 'Playbook' to strengthen democracy, protect voting rights, and transform election administration across the nation
February 13, 2023
More than 40 specific policy recommendations developed by organization's
Democracy Working Group co-chaired by Secretary Benson
Calling for a dramatic increase in protections for election workers as well as a stronger commitment to transparency in how elections are run, the NewDEAL Forum has released a new publication with concrete recommendations for state and local leaders across a range of elected offices to preserve and strengthen our democracy.
The Democracy Playbook, which contains more than 40 specific action steps that officials should take ahead of the 2024 presidential election, highlights the vital role state and local officials play in our elections, including where, how, and when Americans can vote. Spearheaded by the NewDEAL Forum’s Democracy Working Group, the Playbook is the culmination of nine months of meetings and conversations between elected officials and outside experts focused on maintaining free, fair, and safe elections. The Democracy Working Group is co-chaired by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (Arizona), County Commissioner Ken Lawrence (Montgomery County, PA) and Assembly Majority Leader Sandra Jauregui (Las Vegas Valley, NV).
“Preserving our democracy requires urgent attention,” said Debbie Cox Bultan, CEO of the NewDEAL Forum, marking the release of the Democracy Playbook. “The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol following the 2020 election still casts a long shadow over our nation, and we cannot allow such an event to happen again. People of good faith who believe in freedom and democracy – no matter their political party – must stand up against malignant forces that seek to undermine our nation. This playbook will provide state and local officials with best practices to ensure our democracy stands strong.”
The recommendations, focusing on election integrity, voting access, and civic engagement, include best practices drawn from cities and states across the nation that can and should be replicated more broadly.
Some recommendations include:
- Enacting significant penalties for threats against election workers, including elected officials and poll workers;
- Increasing transparency by publicly testing voting machines;
- Enacting reforms to enable election officials to count ballots more quickly, such as pre-canvassing;
- Increasing access to voter registration through automatic voter registration and allowing citizens to register to vote up to and on Election Day;
- Increasing access to voting through enabling no-excuse absentee voting and embracing a robust early voting period; and
- Working with civic and business groups to foster civic engagement and build a sense of community.
“Democracy prevailed over the lies of many election deniers in 2020 and 2022, but the attacks on democracy will increase in intensity, frequency, and sophistication ahead of 2024,” said Secretary Benson. “We share this playbook to identify the policies and best practices that leaders across the nation can advocate for and adopt to prepare for the coming attacks, protect voters, and ensure America’s democracy expands and flourishes.”
“While January 6 will remain a dark stain on America’s history, recent elections contain bright spots that point to a hopeful, brighter future," said Secretary Fontes. "Our system can prevail over those who seek to undermine it, but only if we remember that creating a more perfect union takes continual, intentional effort. This Playbook is a blueprint for that work and for strengthening our democracy over the next two years and beyond.”
“Protecting – and strengthening – our democracy is of the utmost importance,” said Commissioner Lawrence. “While devastating, the COVID-19 pandemic provided lessons about how states and localities made voting safer and easier without sacrificing security. And even though some politicians look to resurrect voter suppression tactics, the recommendations in this playbook show concrete ways to increase access to the polls.”
“The time to act is now,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jauregui. “Preparing for and running elections takes time, staff, and funding. It is a 365-day a year venture, every year. That’s why we’re putting out the playbook to lay out a two-year timeline showing elected officials across the nation what they should be doing to be ready for Election Day.”
“The Democracy Playbook is not the end of our work on this issue,” Bultan added. “While we believe that the recommendations in this document – if implemented in every state – would go a long way to safeguarding our democracy, we will continue to listen to and learn from elected officials and issue-area experts around the country. And we will do all we can to highlight, support, and encourage policies that strengthen and defend the right of all Americans to have their voices heard and their votes counted.”
The NewDEAL Forum has a strong track record of bringing together policy experts and elected officials to promote forward-looking policy recommendations. The Democracy Working Group has joined other initiatives focused on broadband, climate change, education, and the future of work, as well as the Renewing American Task Force.
About NewDEAL Forum
The NewDEAL Forum is a Washington-DC based non-profit organization which identifies and promotes innovative, future-oriented state and local pro-growth progressive policies that can improve the lives of all Americans. By facilitating the identification and spread of policy ideas, the NewDEAL Forum seeks to foster economic growth, reduce barriers to opportunity, and promote good government in communities throughout the country.
Its sister organization, the NewDEAL, supports a network of about 200 state and local officials -- statewide officials, legislators, mayors, council members, and other local leaders across the country -- who are pro-growth progressives. The organization brings together leaders focused on expanding opportunity, helping them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is broadly-earned and sustainable.
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