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SPRINGFIELD, IL - On Wednesday, February 10, President Obama delivered a speech to the Illinois General Assembly about what can be done to “build a better politics.” The president’s speech highlighted the challenges facing American democracy, and made a compelling case for strengthening voter engagement but stopped short of offering immediate solutions to address the influence of money in politics.
Statement from Dan Smith, Democracy Campaign Director, U.S. PIRG:
“After nearly twenty years in public office, President Obama hasn’t lost sight of what makes our democracy great – and that’s the voters. Today’s speech made it clear that we must do more to ensure all Americans can exercise their fundamental right to vote. In states and cities across the country, local lawmakers are working to do just that by modernizing voter registration. Today President Obama put the spotlight on their work, and spoke out for a stronger democracy by endorsing Illinois’ automatic voter registration bill.”
“A vast majority of Americans want to overturn Citizens United and stop the flood of big money in our elections, and it’s good to know the President is on their side. But when it comes to money in politics, voters need action. Today’s speech was a missed opportunity for President Obama to stand up for solutions that are within our reach. With the stroke of a pen, the President could shine a light on secret money in our elections and shape his legacy as a leader in the fight against big-money politics. He could also support state voters and lawmakers in their fight to enact their own small donor empowerment and disclosure laws. If the president is serious about his work to build a better politics, the time for him to act is now.”
This December, U.S. PIRG joined a coalition of democracy organizations to deliver one million petitions to the White House, urging the President to sign an Executive Order cracking down on secret political spending by federal contractors. U.S. PIRG and over 50 other organizations gathered signatures for the delivery.
Statement from Abe Scarr, Director, Illinois PIRG:
“Our democracy works best when everyone participates, and Illinois has multiple opportunities this year to empower voters and strengthen our democracy.
We thank President Obama for supporting Automatic Voter Registration legislation in Springfield, the top priority for the Just Democracy Coalition. Automatic Voter registration will add over a million eligible Illinois voters to the rolls, save taxpayers money, and clean up our voter lists to ensure the integrity of our elections. We are working to build bipartisan support for Senate Bill 2134 (Manar) and House Bill 4208 (Gabel).”
Illinois PIRG is playing a leading role in the Just Democracy Coalition’s Automatic Voter Registration campaign and is active in national, state and local campaign finance reform campaigns.
U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.
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