With an astounding total of 25 candidates in the Democratic primary, the 12 scheduled prime-time debates will provide presidential hopefuls with a big stage to pitch their vision to American voters. At the Brennan Center, we’ll be listening for how candidates plan to defend this country’s democratic institutions and justice system. Below, seven of the questions we want answered:
1. If elected, how will you address the rise of voter suppression across the country?
The 2020 presidential race will be an election about elections. In the past decade, the United States has experienced a surge in voter suppression efforts, as states have passed a wide range of laws that make it harder for many citizens to vote — including reduced early voting, strict ID requirements, and registration restrictions. These voter suppression efforts, which disproportionately target communities of color, have been exacerbated by court decisions, such as the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which weakened critical elements of the Voting Rights Act.
Candidates should be asked about their plans to combat voter suppression and about their position on laws that would protect the right to vote, such as automatic voter registration (AVR), redistricting reform, and full restoration of the Voting Rights Act. The candidates should also discuss their plans to address voter disenfranchisement, particularly in the 34 states with laws that disenfranchise people convicted of felonies, even after they have completed their sentences. They should be pressed to clarify their position on the Democracy Restoration Act (DRA), which would restore the right to vote in federal elections for 3.3. million Americans upon their release from prison.
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