Voting rights in the United States are in a precarious position, according to experts at the ABA webinar, “Seventh Annual State of Voting Rights.” The issue, which has become more contentious in recent years, has “some good, a lot of bad, unfortunately,” said Caleb Jackson, policy counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who joined other voting rights experts at the webinar earlier this month.
Jackson said his organization’s goal is to reframe the conversation around voting rights. “It’s not about which party wins elections or about whether people are actually able to cast a ballot despite barriers they have to face, but more about how easy is it to cast a ballot. Is everyone who wants to cast a ballot and is eligible to cast a ballot able to do so easily and fairly?”
Jackson said reframing the issue should garner bipartisan congressional support, noting that the vote to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act received bipartisan support in 2006 with a Senate vote of 98-0 and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
“So, we don’t think this is a partisan issue, but an issue about every single American who wants to vote (being) able to cast their ballot fairly,” he added.
Khyla D. Craine, deputy legal director, Michigan Department of State, said opposition to enhanced voting rights is not new. “But unfortunately, in our country it is something that continues to boomerang back,” she said.
To advance voting rights legislation, the panelists recommended running for office, writing letters to Congress, volunteering as poll workers and donating to or volunteering with organizations that support voting rights and democracy.
“Folks have to stand up in this moment when democracy is being tested in ways that we haven’t thought about standing up in a long time,” said Adam Ambrogi, senior director for Voting and Elections at the National League of Women Voters. “And that means not just doing the things we’re good at. That means giving time and treasure and all that good stuff to really understand the moment that we’re in and be able to lend…support.”
- ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice
- Webinar stream: Seventh Annual State of Voting Rights
- ABA Journal
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