WHEREAS, in 2012 the Center for the Study of the American Electorate reported that voter turnout was 58 percent of eligible voters and the Maryland Secretary of State reported turnout of 66 percent in Montgomery County; and
WHEREAS, in the 2011 Takoma Park municipal election only approximately 18 percent of registered voters voted, a higher percent than the previous two elections; and
WHEREAS, one reason for the country’s low voter turnout is a faulty and outdated voter registration system that is inefficient in registering voters; and
WHEREAS, expanding opportunities at local agencies for voter education and non-partisan voter registration beyond the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act would promote more engaged citizens and increase civic participation; and
WHEREAS, ten states have established Election Day registration so that voters can register at the same time they cast their ballot; and
WHEREAS, 5.3 million American citizens with felony convictions are denied the right to vote due to state laws, including some states permanently barring such citizens from voting even after serving prison and probation terms; and
WHEREAS local governments like ours have the power to enact laws and procedures for local elections that ensure they meet and ideally surpass federal and state election standards; and choice and hold representatives accountable, that proposes changes to uphold voting rights, that encourages increased voter participation through partnerships with private organizations, and that promotes greater awareness of our political process through civic education; and
WHEREAS Takoma Park has a long history of innovative voting policies, including the adoption of instant runoff voting and provisions for non-citizen voting in municipal elections; and
WHEREAS, an individual right to vote is a fundamental American right, fundamental rights should be guaranteed to all Americans in the U.S. Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in Bush v. Gore, “the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote.”
That the Council does hereby affirm that the right to vote is a fundamental citizenship right to be cherished, protected and exercised.
That the over-arching intent of this Right to Vote resolution is to strengthen the ties that connect residents, elected officials and city government.
We actively encourage and facilitate voter education and voter registration by the City and residents of our community, and commit to initiating voter registration drives (for citizens and non-citizens) focused on areas of the city with the lowest levels of registration.
In order to correct misinformation and encourage voter turnout on Election Day, we will communicate to all voters through means of mail, posters for apartment buildings, city television and social media the following information: general information about voting on Election Day, information on early voting for municipal elections, the format of the ballot, and any new state and federal laws involving voting.
We encourage the recruitment of poll workers and effective training of election officials and poll workers to uphold the individual right to vote.
We establish a task force or standing ‘Right to Vote’ committee to:
We call on our Members of Congress to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would grant an individual right to vote to every American citizen of voting age.
We call on Congress and our state government to take action to uphold voting rights, including ensuring that our nation has a modern voter registration system that meets the basic goal of complete and accurate voting rights, that citizens of the District of Columbia have congressional voting rights, that all jurisdictions have an option to purchase publicly owned or non-profit managed voting equipment and that all voters can be confident that their local jurisdiction meets certain minimum performance standards involving election administration.