NEW YORK – Today marks the launch of The Franchise Project (TFP), a voting rights advocacy organization that aims to educate and empower grassroots activists to engage in effective voting rights advocacy at the local level. The group’s 50-State Voting Access Scorecard helps identify state laws and practices that create barriers to voting access. Then, TFP outlines concrete actions people can take to make voting easier in their states.
“Now, more than ever, effective voting rights organizing is critical to protect our democracy,” said Emma Olson Sharkey, TFP President and Co-founder. “With the recent launch of President Trump’s so-called ‘voter fraud commission,’ whose unstated goal is to uncover ‘evidence’ for his unsubstantiated claim that three million people voted early in 2016, we can expect a widespread effort to make voting harder and to purge eligible voters from the rolls. We need to take a stand, to ensure that our most fundamental right – the right to vote – is available to all citizens.”
“The Franchise Project is building the next generation of voting rights activists,” Olson Sharkey continued. “We inform citizens about their local voting laws and outline meaningful ways for people to make voting easier and more accessible in their local communities, from volunteering as a poll worker, to calling their Secretary of State to tell them not to release data to the Pence-Kobach Commission, to urging their state legislators to enact reforms like Election Day voter registration.”
The Voting Access Scorecard measures the accessibility of American elections based on 30 easy-to-understand criteria that impact how easy it is to cast a ballot. The 30 metrics are divided across eight categories: (1) registration; (2) early vote / in-person absentee voting; (3) vote by mail; (4) voter list maintenance; (5) voting machines and poll workers; (6) online resources for voters; (7) photo ID; and (8) felon enfranchisement. States are assigned a score based on whether or not they satisfy each of the scorecard criteria, and TFP will produce resources to help voting rights activists take concrete action to improve their state’s score.
The Franchise Project (TFP) is dedicated to informing the public about voting laws and spurring people to take action in their local communities. Founded by seasoned voting rights activists with experience running voter protection efforts in multiple elections, TFP is made up of women and men from across the country who care about ensuring that all Americans are easily able to exercise their fundamental right to vote.
Highlights from the 50-State Voting Access Scorecard
The categories where states consistently scored the highest were:
- Providing an online polling place lookup tool for election day (95% of states)
- Allowing voters to simply mail back a confirmation form to verify their address during voter roll maintenance processes (88%)
- Requiring no photo ID, or if ID is required, offering voters an alternative method to prove their identity if they do not have the required ID (84%)
- Requiring poll worker training (84%)
The categories where the most states have opportunities to improve voting access are:
- Allowing individuals to vote during their term of incarceration (3%)
- Holding all elections entirely by mail (7%)
- Offering automatic voter registration (17%)
- Allowing all voters to sign up to permanently receive an absentee ballot each year (19%).
The ten highest performing states were: (1) Washington, DC (26/30); (2 – tie) Oregon and Washington (25); (4 – tie) Maryland and Minnesota (23.5); (6) California (23); (7) Colorado (22); (8) Vermont (21.5); (9) Utah (21); (10 – tie) Hawaii and Montana (20).
The ten lowest performing states were: (1) Mississippi (6/30); (2) Alabama (8); (3) Missouri (8.5); (4) New Hampshire (9); (5 – tie) Florida and Michigan (11); (7) Texas (11.5); (8 – tie) Indiana and Kansas (12); (10) Arkansas (12.5).