Voting Rights

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Voting Rights

Some scholars argue that the United States did not become a full-fledged democracy until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted. Before that time, African Americans were restricted from the ballot box in numerous ways. 

More than 50 years later, communities of color and other underrepresented groups still face problems when it comes to registering to vote and actually casting a ballot and some of the key provisions in the Voting Rights Act were removed by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a sense of urgency to long-discussed voting reforms like voting by mail, same-day voter registration, and expanded access to early voting. How many of these reforms remain in place long-term remains to be seen as state legislatures introduce measures aimed at rolling them back or otherwise restricting voting access

FEATURED TOPIC EPISODES

Voting Blocked

In 1890, Mississippi adopted a new constitution that offered a blueprint for Jim Crow. It all but banned African Americans from voting, erecting a charade of roadblocks: poll taxes, literacy tests and other targeted assaults on the franchise. As historian Carol Anderson explains, such laws blocked Black citizens from polling booths for decades. And today, she says — as the core safeguards of the Voting Rights Act unravel — Americans keep risking their lives to protect the kernel of democracy: their ballots.

Setting the Record Straight

Running an election amidst a pandemic presents historic challenges — a problem made even more difficult by a new and unprecedented controversy about absentee voting, a well-established method of casting a ballot which is expected to double this election. Voters on both sides of the aisle are left wondering what the facts are, and whether or not we'll be able to trust the outcome because of it.

Host Weston Wamp sets the record straight by talking with two election experts about absentee voting, fraud, and the Post Office’s ability to handle the increase in mail-in ballots.

Guests:

  • Amber McReynolds; National Vote at Home Institute, CEO
  • Tammy Patrick; Democracy Fund, Senior Advisor to the Elections Program

Ari Berman on The Contentious Right To Vote

Voting rights have always been contentious in America, and our era is no different. Larry Lessig digs deeply into the past and present of voting in America with Ari Berman, a senior reporter at Mother Jones and the author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.

Why Isn't Democracy Working For Everyone?

In his new book, Democracy in One Book Or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think, David Litt addresses some of the most pressing challenges facing democracy, including partisan rancor, gerrymandering, campaign finance, voter suppression, political corruption, the legislative filibuster and how people are represented (or not) in our political system. David especially focuses on voting rights, and how efforts over time to suppress voting rights based largely on race, ethnicity, and class have led to socioeconomic and political inequalities we see today.

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