Discussion 3: Open
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Be sure to consider multiple perspectives and write as clearly and concisely as possible. You must include a minimum of 300 words and cite your work. Be sure to review the discussion rubric tab under the ‘Start Here’ module for details on how your discussions will be graded.
Side note: I do not teach from the textbook and you are not required to read it. Consider the textbook as a reference to provide clarification on various topics. You should read the information below, it will help you complete the assignment. I can tell if you read the information because it is usually reflected in the quality of work that you submit.
“Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights.
Give us the ballot, and we will no longer plead to the federal government for passage of an anti-lynching law; we will by the power of our vote write the law on the statute books of the South and bring an end to the dastardly acts of the hooded perpetrators of violence.
Give us the ballot, and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.
Give us the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill and send to the sacred halls of Congress men who will not sign a “Southern Manifesto” because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice.
Give us the ballot, and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justly and love mercy, and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who will, who have felt not only the tang of the human, but the glow of the Divine.
Give us the ballot, and we will quietly and nonviolently, without rancor or bitterness, implement the Supreme Court’s decision of May seventeenth, 1954.”
“Give Us the Ballot (Links to an external site.)” was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, 1957, in Washington. D.C.
We just passed the first anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, where domestic terrorists sought to overthrow the November 2020 election and decertify votes of mostly historically excluded groups (HEG’s) or those originally left out of the Constitution. Some of the insurrectionists were seen wearing anti-Semitic attire and insignia affiliated with white supremacist groups. Dr. Robert Pape from the University of Chicago analyzed the demographics of 377 alleged insurrectionists who were arrested. His report (Links to an external site.) found that those arrested came from communities with a decreased population of White people and an increase in diverse populations. Dr. Pape noted, “We’re finding evidence that the key driver is fear that rights of Hispanic people and Black people are outpacing the rights of white people.” The FBI (Links to an external site.) has issued several warnings on the increase in “domestic terrorism” and white supremacy in America. Based on the 2020 U.S. Census data, not only is the U.S. becoming more diverse, so is Texas. People of color in Texas now outnumber the White population. Is there a bigger relationship between the increase in people of color in America and the rise in “domestic terrorism”?
Why am I mentioning the 1/6/21 U.S. Capital insurrection? Because the main goal of the insurrectionists was to “stop the steal” by trying to decertify millions of valid votes and ensure that former President Trump remained president. The Trump administration’s attorney general, William Barr (Links to an external site.) confirmed that there was not “wide spread fraud in the 2020 election”.
Optional: If you do not follow politics, you may want to read/view the optional items below.
What does the U.S. Constitution say about voting rights and the role that the federal government should play? You may want to read the following portions of the U.S. Constitution:
Article 1, Section 4
Article 4, Section 4
Here are a few common themes from state proposed elections laws:
Reduction in early voting dates and times
Elimination of “Souls to the Polls”, “Souls to the Polls” was a campaign created by Black churchgoers to encourage voting directly after Sunday church services.
Criminalizes feeding and passing out water to voters who are required to wait in long lines to vote. (GA)
Eliminating the number of drop boxes for mail-in ballots.
History of the Voting Rights Act (1965)
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (1965) prohibited the “discrimination of voting practices and procedures that discriminated on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group”. Redistricting plans and maps were also included in that language. In 2013, SCOTUS eliminated a portion of the Voting Rights Act (1965) with the Shelby County v Holder ruling, essentially stating that “racist voter suppression is over”.
New York Times. (2013, June 25). A History of Voting Rights | The New York Times. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/U4XtZ-tIzIA (Links to an external site.)
Highlights from Current Voting Rights Legislation
Freedom to Vote Act Overview
Election Day becomes a federal holiday
States must offer early voting
All voters may request mail-in ballots
States must ensure that voting lines are no longer than 30 minutes long
Online, automatic, and same-day voter registration
Prohibits partisan gerrymandering and create standards on redistricting
Prevents local election officials from being fired without cause
Increases security on voting systems; paper records of every ballot, post-election audits, and funds state cybersecurity grants
Requires disclosures on donations to political groups
John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (For the People Act) Overview
Restores portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and prevents discrimination against voters of color, address the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision Shelby County v Holder, 2013.
Highlights which states and local governments have a pattern of discrimination
Ensures that all changes to elections are publicly announced at least 180 days before an election
Expands the government’s authority to send federal observers to any area where there may be a risk of discrimination at the polls.
NowThis News. (2021, October 5).The Difference Between the Freedom to Vote Act and the For the People Act. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/_VuyKSc3oQ0 (Links to an external site.)
What is gerrymandering and redistricting? (Optional: Just in case you would like a refresher.)
Khan Academy. (2018, February 9). Gerrymandering | US government and civics | US government and civics | Khan Academy. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/WfxBuwMGTts (Links to an external site.)
PBS NewsHour. (2021, November 24). Dems control the House by only 3 seats. Here’s how redistricting efforts could affect that. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/_VMgBgo1Wd4 (Links to an external site.)
What is the filibuster?
Khan Academy. (2018, January 9). Senate filibusters and cloture. YouTube. [Video]. https://youtu.be/JdNlpY7ImOg
Lau, T. (2021, April 26). The Filibuster, Explained. Brennan Center for Justice. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/filibuster-explained (Links to an external site.)
Texas Election Laws and Overview (Optional: Just in case you are interested.)
On September 7, 2021, Governor Abbott signed Texas Senate Bill (S. B.) 1 into law. The new election law will go into effect on December 2, 2021, and it is currently facing several legal challenges. The pending lawsuits claim that the law violates the U.S. Constitution, federal laws, and suppresses voters. Many organizations such as Crip the Vote and Rev Up Texas have been critical of how the provisions in Texas S. B. 1 will impact Texans with disabilities. They believe that the new legislation will make it harder for people with disabilities to cast their ballots and create barriers to seeking assistance at polling locations.
KXAN. (2016, October 24). History of Texas elections. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/gZyAMyo8Bas (Links to an external site.)
KVUE. (2021, September 7). Gov. Greg Abbott to sign SB 1 into law | KVUE. YouTube [Video].
https://youtu.be/NnCBedXbK9E (Links to an external site.)
Roberts, K. (2021, March 26). Beto O’Rourke testifying against SB 7. YouTube [Video].
https://youtu.be/foQG2YG4YtU (Links to an external site.)
(Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke speaks at the 12:31 mark.)
Summary of the Texas Senate Bill 1 New Election Provisions:
Bans 24-hour voting in Texas counties.
Bans all drive-thru voting.
Increases vote-by-mail identification mandates, by requiring individuals to provide either their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on their absentee ballot application forms and on the envelope in which they return their ballots.
Bans officials from mailing unsolicited mail-in ballot applications.
Allows partisan poll watchers “free movement” at polling places under the new law, except for watching a voter cast their ballot. (Poll watchers are required to attend training and can be removed for disruptive behavior.)
Caregivers and those who assist people with disabilities while they cast a ballot must complete documentation showing their name, address, and relationship to the person they helped cast a ballot. They will also be required to take an oath pledging only to help with “reading the ballot to the voter, directing the voter to read the ballot, marking the voter’s ballot, or directing the voter to mark the ballot.”
The Texas secretary of state’s office will conduct monthly voter roll checks to ensure that non-citizens are not registered to vote.
Legiscan. (n.d.). Texas Senate Bill 1. https://legiscan.com/TX/text/SB1/id/2424492 (Links to an external site.)
(You will need to incorporate data into your assignment to fulfill the Quality of Evidence portion of the discussion rubric. Feel free to use the information below to support your argument.)
FairVote. (n.d.) Voter Turnout. https://www.fairvote.org/voter_turnout#voter_turnout_101 (Links to an external site.)
NBC News. (2021, August 21). Census Shows A More Diverse, Urban America. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/cqJwKu4dNSk (Links to an external site.)
Statewide Database. (n.d.) Election Data. https://statewidedatabase.org/election.html (Links to an external site.)
U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Quick Facts: United States. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/HSD410219 (Links to an external site.) (You will see this item several times throughout the course, so you may want to become familiar with it.)
U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Voting and Registration. https://www.census.gov/topics/public-sector/voting.html (Links to an external site.)
Let’s discuss the federal government’s role in voting rights. Historically, voting rights have been bipartisan. Former Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were avid supporters of voting rights. Why are voting rights now controversial? Does it have to do with the changing demographics of the country?
According to the Brenner Center for Justice, state lawmakers in over 48 states have introduced bills to restrict access to voting, and 18 of those bills have been passed into law. Including Texas Senate Bill 7. Many republicans cite election concerns from November 2020 and believe that the new restrictions are necessary to ensure election security. The opposition believes that the restrictive provisions disenfranchise communities of color, the disabled, and low-income populations.
Advocates and most Congressional Democrats have been working to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to guarantee free and fair elections. Currently, Democrats control the U.S. House by a slim majority and the U.S. Senate is equally divided among party lines with Vice President Harris breaking tie votes. Currently, there are 2 U.S. Senate Democrats (Sen. Sinema (AZ) and Sen. Manchin (WV)) who have been on the fence on changing the filibuster and plan to vote against passing voting rights legislation. President Biden has received backlash from some progressive Democrats because they feel that he should have used his political capital to guarantee voting rights because they are fundamental for an equitable society.
Many Republicans are against the aforementioned voting rights legislation because many feel that elections should be decided by the state, same-day voter registration would create avenues for voter fraud, and that components of the legislation is an overreach of federalism. Many Republicans support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Electoral Count Act because both would prevent state election officials from trying to undo state-certified elections that were fairly run.
(You will need to answer the items in bold because they connect to the course and account for the Knowledge of Subject Manner on the discussion rubric. You may find further information on the topics in Chapter 3: 3 Things to Know.)
1. Watch the videos below on voting rights legislation and changing the filibuster.
Brennan Center for Justice. (2021, January 19.) The Fight to Vote: A Conversation with Michael Waldman and Melissa Murray. (YouTube). [Video].
https://youtu.be/8fLxoik2yuI (Links to an external site.)
The Heritage Foundation. (2021, April 13). Safeguarding our Elections: A Conversation with Sen. Rand Paul. (YouTube). [Video].
https://youtu.be/AFj2-2mI6eg (Links to an external site.)
Senator John Cornyn. (2022, January 19). Cornyn Outlines GOP Wish List if Schumer Ends Filibuster. (YouTube). [Video].
https://youtu.be/2MDyQBbW1Vw (Links to an external site.)
2. Draft a persuasive argument for or against federal intervention to enact voting rights legislation (it is okay to be neutral, but you must state your reasoning). Think about the religious, political, cultural, economic, and societal implications of voting rights legislation.
Your submission must include the components below in essay format:
Provide a brief introduction of the voting rights legislation. 1-2 sentence(s)
Give context and/or background on voting rights. 2-3 sentences
Describe how federalism divides power and resources between the U.S. federal government and state governments regarding elections. 1-2 sentence(s)
Detail possible limitations of federalism and how the overreach may negatively impact voting rights. 1-2 sentence(s)
Explain how federalism can impede or promote social justice work in ensuring free and fair elections. 1-2 sentence(s)
Share your position on the voting rights legislation. (Acknowledge opposing viewpoints, if applicable.) 2-3 sentences
List facts/data/evidence that supports your argument. (You may want to include your data/statistics here.) 2-3 sentences
Summarize your argument. Do you have questions or a call to action? 1-2 sentence(s)
Include at least 2 citations
Your submission should read like an essay. I added the sentence length to assist those who prefer more detail. I am more concerned about the structure and quality of your argument. Your grade will be negatively impacted if you do not answer the bold content-related questions, include data, and/or forget to list your citations. Be sure to review the discussion rubric in the ‘Start Here’ module.
Questions to Think About
Does the fact that America is mostly comprised of people of color impact the need to limit voting rights?
Is federal oversight only needed when states go amok?
Do you favor a strong national government or an increase in ‘states rights’ when it comes to the elections process?
Does federalism enhance or undermine the ability of states and counties to maintain fair elections?
Can state and local governments address election concerns alone?
Is it the federal governments’ responsibility to ensure that everyone has a free and fair election?
What are the underlining issues surrounding voting rights restrictions in America?
What structural change is needed to pass voting rights legislation?
How will the Freedom to Vote Act and the For the People Act assist historically excluded groups (HEG’s)? The LGBTQ+ community? Veterans? People with disabilities?
Do the bills go far enough or do they go too far? What other measures should be included?
Does the federal government have the funds and/or resources to support the legislation?
What are the political implications?
Is it feasible to eliminate voter suppression?
Suggested Reading (Optional)
Brennan Center for Justice. (2021). Annotated Guide to the For the People Act of 2021. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/annotated-guide-people-act-2021 (Links to an external site.)
C-Span. (2021, January 12). Sen. Mitch McConnell on Changing the Filibuster & Voting Rights Bills. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/nJX68mfQlYc (Links to an external site.)
Galston, W. (2021, January 5). The Blessings (and Curses) of Federalism. Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-blessings-and-curses-of-federalism-11609870276 (Links to an external site.) PDF: The Blessings (and Curses) of Federalism – WSJ.pdf
NBC News. (2021, May 11). Schumer, McConnell Clash Over Voting Rights Bill In Senate.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8reVuzqFS_U (Links to an external site.)
Nussbaumer, K. (2013). The Election Law Connection and U.S. Federalism. Jstor. https://www-jstor-org.libaccess.hccs.edu/stable/42000294?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=The+Election+Law+Connection+and+U.S.+Federalism&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DThe%2BElection%2BLaw%2BConnection%2Band%2BU.S.%2BFederalism%26filter%3D&ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_search_gsv2%2Fcontrol&refreqid=fastly-default%3A27fac41ffc34a5ebef31203e03eec202&seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents Links to an external site. Links to an external site. View the PDF or log in with your HCC account information: The Election Law Connection and U.S. Federalism.pdf
Stevenson, P. (2021, June 8). How is the John Lewis Voting Rights Act different from H.R. 1? https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/06/08/how-is-john-lewis-voting-rights-act-different-hr-1/ (Links to an external site.)PDF: How is the John Lewis Voting Rights Act different from H.R. 1? – The Washington Post.pdf
The Heritage Foundation. (2021, February 21). The Facts About H.R. 1: The “For the People Act of 2021”. https://www.heritage.org/election-integrity/report/the-facts-about-hr-1-the-the-people-act-2021 (Links to an external site.)
The Hill. (2021, January 12). ‘We Have No Option But To Change’: Biden Calls For Changing Filibuster Rules For Voting Right Bills. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/xb0650bkQ5E (Links to an external site