In the News

In Ohio, registered voters who do not vote in a two-year period are sent a mailing asking them to confirm their address. If they do not respond to the mailing or vote in the subsequent four years, they are purged from the rolls. Represented by Demos and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the Ohio chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute -- an organization of black trade unionists and community activists -- has been fighting these purges in court since 2016.

“When we’re talking about elite schools and, certainly, free medical schools, I don’t think that’s what’s going to be driving the policy process,” said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a think tank with operations in three cities including Boston that advocates for a diverse, expanded middle class and racial equality. [...]

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Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, argues: “We cannot rely on states to fund education on their own or even allow for collective bargaining in many states. So I think that the federal government has to step in and provide some real financial leverage in order to raise the number of teachers, raise the job quality for teachers and raise, even if it’s nonteaching jobs, the positions that have been eliminated, particularly in two-year colleges but across the education system.”

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“It’s political stubbornness,” said Stuart C. Naifeh, senior counsel for Demos, a national voting rights law group that is working with the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Promise Arizona, the American Civil Liberties Union and others on this lawsuit and related NVRA issues.

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Chiraag Bains of the advocacy group Demos that has monitored the activity of Pilf and its allied groups for several years, said: “Their aim is not to ensure the security of our elections, but to intimidate people from going to the polls. They are promoting purges that prevent eligible voters from participating in our democracy.”

Naila Awan, a counsel at Demos — one of the legal firms representing the groups in the lawsuit — said Friday's ruling "sides with democracy and promotes a more robust and inclusive democracy. The state of Missouri has been failing to provide address update services required by the NVRA.

"This disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income individuals, who tend to move at higher rates."

Stuart Naifeh, one of the attorneys pressing the lawsuit against Reagan, said the ruling was deeply flawed, but the groups haven’t yet decided whether to file an appeal.

“Voters should go out there and check their registration to make sure they are update to date, since the secretary of state is not going to do anything about it,” Naifeh said.

[D]emos, another liberal think tank, sees things differently. Recent research by the group finds support for putting more of the emphasis on race. [...]

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"Individuals who are still dealing with devastating losses from Hurricane Maria should not also have to contend with discrimination at the polls,” said Stuart Naifeh, senior counsel at Demos. “The court’s order protects the right of Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican citizens to meaningfully exercise their right to vote this fall.”