Presentation Title

Improving Democracy in America by Fighting Voter Suppression Through Civic Activism

Faculty Mentor

Prof. Christopher B. Lee

Start Date

23-11-2019 11:15 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 11:30 AM

Location

Markstein 101

Session

oral 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

In this research, we try to evaluate civic activism as a tool for fighting widespread voter suppression. In the past, racist voting laws prevented women and blacks from voting. Now, election officials in Republican states suppress their votes by blocking walk-in registration, passing overly restrictive photo ID laws, illegally purging voter rolls, limiting early and absentee voting, spreading disinformation about voting procedures, causing extremely long lines on Election Day, closing urban-area DMV offices, Gerrymandering, and organizing off-year elections. These methods target mostly the poor, elderly, Black, and Latino voters with no access to transportation, flexible working hours, or valid forms of identifications tied to owning a car (a driver's license) or traveling overseas (a passport). Fighting voter suppression has become the new battleground of American democracy.

Our hypothesis is that everyday people in the targeted communities can fight back through civic activism and by exposing vote suppression to a national audience. Our results support this, showing that many state and local laws were overturned after the public fought back. In March 2018, activists won a voting rights federal court case in Broward County, Florida. In August 2018, activists won after election officials voted at a public hearing not to close seven of the nine voting locations in the predominantly African-American county. In October 2018, activists won against the Shelby County Election Commission. In October 2012, activists in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus removed billboards that intimidated minority voters. In August 2016, activists struck down North Dakota’s photo ID law that discriminated against native Americans. In contrast, in Noxubee County, Mississippi the voter rolls were purged in 2012 without resistance from county officials due to lack of civic activism. These results show that robust civic activism is an effective tool for fighting voter suppression in areas with biased laws and/or election officials.

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Nov 23rd, 11:15 AM Nov 23rd, 11:30 AM

Improving Democracy in America by Fighting Voter Suppression Through Civic Activism

Markstein 101

In this research, we try to evaluate civic activism as a tool for fighting widespread voter suppression. In the past, racist voting laws prevented women and blacks from voting. Now, election officials in Republican states suppress their votes by blocking walk-in registration, passing overly restrictive photo ID laws, illegally purging voter rolls, limiting early and absentee voting, spreading disinformation about voting procedures, causing extremely long lines on Election Day, closing urban-area DMV offices, Gerrymandering, and organizing off-year elections. These methods target mostly the poor, elderly, Black, and Latino voters with no access to transportation, flexible working hours, or valid forms of identifications tied to owning a car (a driver's license) or traveling overseas (a passport). Fighting voter suppression has become the new battleground of American democracy.

Our hypothesis is that everyday people in the targeted communities can fight back through civic activism and by exposing vote suppression to a national audience. Our results support this, showing that many state and local laws were overturned after the public fought back. In March 2018, activists won a voting rights federal court case in Broward County, Florida. In August 2018, activists won after election officials voted at a public hearing not to close seven of the nine voting locations in the predominantly African-American county. In October 2018, activists won against the Shelby County Election Commission. In October 2012, activists in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus removed billboards that intimidated minority voters. In August 2016, activists struck down North Dakota’s photo ID law that discriminated against native Americans. In contrast, in Noxubee County, Mississippi the voter rolls were purged in 2012 without resistance from county officials due to lack of civic activism. These results show that robust civic activism is an effective tool for fighting voter suppression in areas with biased laws and/or election officials.