The story of the Democratic Party -- at least during those times when the party has advanced progressive causes -- has been a story of expanding the franchise. From the time of Andrew Jackson, when Democrats eliminated the property requirements for white male voting; to the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the labor movement, which together brought millions of new Eastern and Southern European ethnics to the polls; to the civil-rights revolution of the 1960s, the party's electoral fortunes have swelled whenever it's been able to enlarge the electorate. That was certainly the story behind Barack Obama's triumph in 2008, when record numbers of black, Latino, and young voters went to the polls, and behind the Democrats' 2010 senatorial victories in Western states with growing Latino populations.
Often, enlarging the electorate has required changing the laws on voter eligibility -- something Democrats in the ages of Jackson and Johnson (Lyndon) clearly understood. Which is why the Democrats' current inability to secure the legalization of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, or even just the college students and members of the armed forces who would have won legal status under the DREAM Act, is so maddening.