Max Feldman serves as Counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, a nonpartisan institute that works to improve our democracy and judicial system. We discuss the powers of voting, the need to modernize election systems and enact pro-voter laws, as well as the rising trend of voter suppression since 2010.
The Powers of Voting
Voting is our civic duty and our opportunity to participate in our democracy. We can hold our leaders accountable and also express what we believe this country can and should be. Voting means a lot to people in traditionally disenfranchised communities because it serves as an important expression of who we are as citizens. If it weren’t powerful, nobody would try to suppress our right to vote.
Strict voter ID laws, voter roll purges, early voting cutbacks, and documentary proof of citizenship are the most effective ways to disenfranchise voters. Since the wave election in 2010, at least 23 states have enacted voter suppressive laws that are in place for this year’s election. This trend was made worse when the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 in “Shelby County vs. Holder” in 2013, which eviscerated the pre-clearance process and made room for states to enact stricter voting laws without oversight from the federal government.
Expansive Pro-Voter Laws
The most promising and bipartisan way to expand the electorate is through modernization provisions, such as online voter registration and Automatic Voter Registration (AVR). Some studies in Oregon have shown that AVR also boosts voter turnout. With increased adoption of AVR across states, it will be more widely implemented over time. Other effective measures are Election Day Registration, expanding Early Voting, and restoring the right to vote to former felons who have completed the terms of their sentence.
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Max Feldman serves as Counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, where he focuses on voting rights and elections.