Democrats on Verge of Voting-Rights Offensive

The more, the merrier.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

If Democrats do well in November, one of the big differences between now and the last time Democrats did well — in the 2006 and 2008 elections — is that voting rights have moved much higher on the party's agenda. Until a couple of years ago, Democrats were mainly playing defense, attempting to fend off Republican moves to make voting more difficult, mainly through voter ID laws but in other ways as well. 

Now Democrats in many states are ready for a voting-rights offensive. They've already gotten automatic voter registration in several states. That seems likely to be extended to other Democratic-governed states if they gain unified party government in more states. 

In Virginia, Democrats won a hard-fought battle over giving voting rights to convicted felons. Now, in Florida, Democrats have organized a ballot measure to restore voting rights for most convicted felons after they serve their sentences. The rules in Florida require 60 percent of the vote, but at least one poll now has the proposition passing with 71 percent in support and only 22 percent opposed. That's good news for proponents, I suppose, but I wouldn't bet on it passing. There's an old saw about ballot measures: The first polls represent a peak, and over time they tend to lose steam, especially when there's a well-funded "no" campaign, which will surely be the case in Florida. Nevertheless, it's good news for the measure that it sounds good at first look to most voters.