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Press release/statement

Demos Stands By Long Record of Non-Partisan Voting Rights Work

BOSTON – Miles Rapoport, president of the non-partisan public policy organization Demos, released the following statement in response to today’s baseless accusations that the organization’s voting rights litigation in Massachusetts was driven by a partisan agenda or was in any way connected to Elizabeth Warren’s Senate Campaign:

"These criticisms, from whatever source, are completely off base.  Demos has worked on strong implementation of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act in 18 states across the country since 2004.  We believe it is fundamental to our democracy that all eligible citizens be accorded the maximum opportunity to register and vote.  That concept was embodied in the passage of the NVRA, which required people getting a driver's license or receiving state assistance or disability services to be given that opportunity.  

We believe it is fundamental to our democracy that all eligible citizens be accorded the maximum opportunity to register and vote.

“Unfortunately, many states, including Massachusetts, have not implemented the law properly, and we have fought for states to do so for eight years.  We commend the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for agreeing to properly enforce federal law, and we completely reject the Brown campaign’s or anyone else's assertion that this is politically motivated or coordinated in any way.

“Amelia Warren Tyagi has been a superb Demos Board Member or Board Chair since 2006.  She has served in these unpaid positions with tremendous integrity and thoughtfulness, and she would not, and did not, encourage any work in order to benefit her mother's campaign. Demos was doing NVRA work well before Amelia came on our board, and we are going to continue it long after this year's election is over."

Demos’ twelve-year history of working to build a robust democracy in which every American has a voice has included, since 2004, state-by-state efforts to ensure the enforcement of the NVRA at public agencies across the country. In partnership with local groups and national voting rights organizations, Demos’ efforts have led to compliance with the law and resulted in the registration of almost 1.5 million otherwise illegally disenfranchised voters in states including Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia.

Demos’ work in Massachusetts follows the same non-partisan model: In May of 2012, plaintiffs Bethzaida Delgado, NAACP New England Area Conference (NAACP-NEAC), and New England United for Justice (NEU4J) filed suit against Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), and the Secretary of the Commonwealth (SOC). Represented by Demos and its partners and based on information requests from February 2011 and field investigations begun in May 2011, the plaintiffs allege that the Commonwealth failed to provide required voter registration services at public assistance offices, a violation of the NVRA.  

After extensive negotiations with the Commonwealth, the parties have reached an interim (short-term) agreement signed by the parties on July 5, 2012.  In executing this agreement, DTA and the Secretary of the Commonwealth have exercised leadership in ensuring that Massachusetts citizens, previously denied the opportunity to register to vote, can now participate.  These steps should be applauded by everyone who believes in a strong democracy where all citizens, regardless of class or race, have the freedom to vote.