The Most Important Democracy Group You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

As one of the foremost election law experts in the country, you might think Professor Josh Douglas would be feeling gloomy these days. But his just-published book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting is full of reasons to be optimistic about the bedrock principle of democracy – one person, one vote.

Professor Douglas tells the inspiring real stories of “Democracy Champions” –  people and organizations working on the ground to remove barriers facing eligible citizens who want to vote. His informed and thoughtful analysis provides a blueprint for fixing the problems of the voting system in the US.

VoteRiders is featured in the chapter about voter ID as “one of the most important democracy groups you’ve probably never heard of.” Prof. Douglas details VoteRiders’ work in Wisconsin in 2016 to show how our practical focus on meeting, educating and helping voters with voter ID can make a real difference.

It’s a community-based effort to ensure that strict voter ID laws harm as few valid voters as possible. …The reality is that voter ID laws are probably here to stay. They need not sully the electoral process if we can ensure that every valid voter actually has the necessary ID and that the electorate understands how to comply with the requirement. We can take a positive, proactive approach to a law that has the potential of voter suppression. In this way, we can flip the scourge of strict voter ID laws on its head. In fact, we can use the outreach and education required to increase voter participation.”

Our Wisconsin team in 2016 included Wisconsin Coordinator Anita Johnson in Milwaukee and Molly McGrath in Madison, plus a dedicated crew of volunteers and partner organizations that amplified and extended our work. Douglas made a special trip to Madison to find out more about their stories. He said,

It was a joy to meet Molly McGrath in Madison and to learn about her and VoteRiders’ story. It was even more of an honor to tell their stories in my new book. VoteRiders provided me with so much inspiration for what is possible for our voting system.”

Here are a few of the key moments in the story of how voter ID affected Wisconsin’s 2016 election.

June 2015- Vets Cant Vote

VoteRiders launches Wisconsin campaign to help veterans get voter ID, since the WI voter ID law excluded VA cards as a valid ID for voting.

Wisconsin amends voter ID law to include VA cards.

Voter ID Week

As WI Presidential Primary approaches, VoteRiders coordinates “Voter ID Month” with Dane County Voter ID Coalition partners to educate and assist voters with voter ID law.

Juneteenth Festival 2016

VoteRiders staff and volunteers speak to thousands of voters across Wisconsin to make sure they have ID to vote, and help them if needed.

Zack Moore gets his ID Sept 2016

Zack Moore is denied an ID to vote at Wisconsin DMV. Federal judge orders Wisconsin to improve procedures for providing free voter ID based on VoteRiders video of his case.

Sarada votes November 2016

Wisconsin is crucial battleground of 2016 election; VoteRiders’ efforts to help voters with voter ID gain national media attention.

VoteRiders continues to expand our work in Wisconsin – and nationwide. In 2018, Anita spearheaded the enormously successful “Souls To The Polls” canvassing campaign in Milwaukee: the focus of this NowThisNews feature with over 721,000 views.

Vote for US provides inspiration and a solid foundation for taking action to protect the right to vote. We highly recommend it for readers who care about democracy and are motivated to get involved in local voting rights advocacy.

Interested in learning more and meeting the author in person? Professor Douglas will be appearing at a bookstore near you soon – check out the dates and locations of his book tour.