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DNC Hires Sondra Haltom to Head Voter Expansion Project in Texas

by: Katherine Haenschen

Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

Big news this week in terms of protecting voting rights here in Texas: the Democratic National Committee has hired Sondra Haltom to head up the Voter Expansion Project here in Texas.

Haltom is the first staff hire for the project, and a long-time advocate for voting rights here in Texas. She served as the political director for the Texas Democratic Party and also founded Empower the Vote Texas, an organization dedicated to protecting voting rights.  

The Voter Expansion Project is designed to ensure that the Democratic Party not only protects the right to vote and works proactively with states across the country to expand access to the ballot box.

Read the full press release below the jump.

DNC Voter Expansion Project Announces First Staff Hire: Texas State Director

WASHINGTON, D.C.- As part of the Democratic National Committee's Voter Expansion Project, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz today announced the hiring of Sondra Haltom as Texas State Director to be based in Austin.  These hires come just days after the New York Times report detailing the Republican Party's attempts to limit voting rights in Texas, and where the Justice Department has had to intervene.

"The DNC brings unmatched institutional knowledge and experience in voter registration, engagement and protection," said Wasserman Schultz. "With our state party partners, we have a national infrastructure and team of experts like Sondra that no other organization can bring to bear. The face of Texas is rapidly changing, and with the work that Sondra and her team will do, we will make sure that Democrats from Corpus Christi to Beaumont to Lubbock can make their voices heard and bring new leadership to the state."

As the DNC and Democrats around the country - including Vice President Joe Biden - seek to expand access to voting through the new Voter Expansion Project, Republicans continue their cynical attempt to make it more difficult for people to vote. Since the Supreme Court struck the heart out of the Voting Rights Act, Texas has raced to implement a strict voter ID law, which affects women in particular.

"As Republicans continue to impede our right to vote, limit our access to the polls, making it more difficult to cast our ballot, Democrats are fighting to expand the vote and increase access," said Pratt Wiley, National Director of Voter Protection at the DNC. "Our team is building a professional and permanent, in-house operation that will remain in place from cycle to cycle for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot."

A native Houstonian, Haltom has 15 years of experience working on election issues like ballot access, voter suppression prevention, redistricting and more. In December 2012, she founded Empower The Vote Texas (ETVT), a non-profit organization dedicated to voting rights and election reform issues. ETVT tracked election legislation proposed in both the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress, monitored litigation on voting rights, served as a resource on Texas election law, and educated Texans about the voting process.

"Protecting and expanding the right to vote has long been a struggle in Texas but the challenges have been magnified in recent years," said Haltom. "In order to fight back against the barriers being erected to voter participation, it is vital that this work happen year-round. That's why I am so excited to be a part of the DNC's effort to ensure that all eligible Texans are able to fully participate in their democracy."

Prior to starting ETVT, Haltom served for seven years as the Political Director for the Texas Democratic Party where she built and lead the TDP's Voter Protection Program and their efforts to fight illegal redistricting maps, voter suppression efforts and voter ID legislation. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University.

The Voter Expansion Project was announced in a video by former President Bill Clinton to DNC supporters. This project helps ensure the Democratic Party not only protects the right to vote, but also works proactively with states across the country to expand access to the ballot box.

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