In the end, democracy won on Tuesday night.
Voters overcame suppression attempts, long lines, broken machines and nasty weather to turn out in massive numbers in key states. Extreme gerrymandering wasn’t enough to thwart the will of voters in the battle for the House. And Florida registered a massive win for democracy by voting to restore the franchise to those with past criminal convictions.
Still, some voters faced wait times of several hours, often thanks to machine problems, underlining the urgent need to fix our aging voting machines and improve election administration. Georgia, already a hotbed of voter suppression efforts, was the site of particular problems, especially in minority-heavy areas. And the landslide in the House, where Democrats likely won the popular vote by around 9 percent while winning only a narrow majority of seats, shows why we urgently need to unrig the map.
The most important result is a new Congress that’s likely be much more supportive of the reforms needed to strengthen democracy, and far more willing to act as a necessary check on the executive branch. Congress will come closer to reflecting America, too. The House will have a record number of women and minority members — including its first female Native American and its first female Muslim.
In Florida, a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to people with past criminal convictions, which the Brennan Center is proud to have helped draft, passed with strong bipartisan support, ending a ban that had affected over one in five African-Americans in the state. Around 1.4 million people total will now have a voice in their democracy. Not since the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 in 1971 has a law change conferred voting rights to so many Americans….