Wednesday | January 9, 2019


The right to vote is inextricably woven into the very fabric of American democracy. When the franchise has been extended to those who had been excluded from “we the people” – from white men without property at the dawn of the American republic and African-American men after the Civil War to women in the early decades of the 20th century and African-Americans and other people of color in the 1960s – American democracy has blossomed, growing deeper and more sturdy roots in the soil of our body politic. When the franchise has been restricted – by poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses at the end of the Reconstruction and by voter suppression in our own age – American democracy has been diminished and its survival threatened.

Today, American democracy is in crisis, and voter suppression is at the center of that crisis. There is ample evidence that it has been used to thwart the democratic will of “we the people” in a different states and in a number of recent elections. Our panel gathers not to belabor the self-evident – that voter suppression is morally wrong and injurious to democracy – but to discuss, from a variety of perspectives, what we should be doing to end it.