Flush with cash and a newfound demand for activism, the American Civil Liberties Union next month will launch a new effort to expand voting rights in all 50 states that top officials hope will finally let liberals play offense on an issue that has long bedeviled them. Rollout will start on Oct. 1 in Lawrence, Kansas — and that location is no accident. It’s the home state of Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state and a prominent Republican advocate of restricting voter access. He is co-chair of President Donald Trump’s commission to investigate so-far unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. The ACLU campaign, called Let People Vote, will forgo a federal approach to expanding voting rights; indeed it ignores Congress altogether. Instead, it will pressure each state to adopt individually tailored plans, including proposals such as creating independent redistricting commissions and restoring voting access for convicted felons.
And in a change for the group, the campaign is also designed to attract widespread grassroots support from liberals angry about Trump, with top officials at the ACLU hopeful that the rank-and-file activism that has fueled a surge in fundraising can become a central component of their effort.
“We, as protectors of voting rights, we’ve been playing defense,” Faiz Shakir, ACLU’s national political director, told McClatchy. “And this is a moment to go on offense.”