“Democracy in Peril” is the first of a six-part series of panel discussions hosted by the Election Law Clinic.
American democracy is in a precarious position. A peaceful transition of power -- a basic democratic prerequisite -- failed to occur in January 2021. Across the country, legislatures have enacted an unprecedented number of laws that restrict access to the ballot box, such as cutting the number of days of early voting, restricting the drop-off locations for absentee ballots, and even banning the provision of food or water to people waiting in line to vote. Yet there are countervailing trends too. Some states are adopting bold policies designed to expand the franchise. And, though it has been silent on questions of electoral rules in recent years, the House of Representatives has re-entered the fray and passed two massive election reform bills, one addressing a vast array of topics, the other focused on racial discrimination in voting. What does the future hold for American democracy? Are we trapped in a vicious cycle of increasing polarization and decreasing legitimacy? Or will we find a way to run elections that are -- and are seen to be -- free and fair?
The following five events in the series will cover a range of important issues in democracy today, including the future of the Voting Rights Act and the role of money in politics.