CVP Field Trip to the Smithsonian Exhibit on American Democracy

The Campus Vote Project and the Fair Elections Legal Network teams visited the “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith” exhibit, a new addition to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and we were all moved. The exhibit chronicles America’s transition from being under the rule of England to becoming an independent, democratic country, and showcases materials from various aspects of voting and elections, such as ballots, canvassing, and protests for the right to vote. There was also an interactive station asking visitors to select from a list of criteria concerning who should be able to vote and run for office. All citizens should be invested in and have access to voting and elections because our vote is our voice; it allows us to actively participate in the democratic process that shapes our country. The Smithsonian exhibit showed how our democracy has changed over the years and highlighted some of the struggles that got us to where we are today. Here are a few of the team’s thoughts. “There were little screens playing ads from back in the early days of TV that extended up onto the ceiling and into a “cloud” of noise and images with tons of different ads playing on so many more little screens. I thought it was a good visual representation of how “noisy” and crowded our political discourse is in the space of television advertisements.” -Jacob Conrack, FELN legal intern “The exhibit reminded me, though, that even the toughest barriers to voting rights are not insurmountable. If we keep fighting, we might one day actually land this Great Leap of Faith.” -Fahad...

The Partisanship of the Commission on Election Integrity

by Ta’Lisa Turner-Pitts, CVP Intern   In light of his claim that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election, President Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI) to investigate. However, widespread voter fraud is largely nonexistent. According to The Truth About Voter Fraud, a report from the Brennan Center for Justice, most supposed incidents of voter fraud are traceable to other sources such as clerical errors and actual rates of voter fraud run between 0.0003% and 0.0025% of ballots cast. Therein lies the first problem with PACEI; research shows voter fraud is not a widespread problem, but the PACEI has a predetermined goal to find millions of fraudulent votes. Why? Claims of voter fraud have been used to support voter suppression tactics and regulations such as strict voter ID laws, the restriction of voter registration drives, purging voter rolls, and reductions to early voting options. The commission is co-chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, two Republicans who have a lot at stake. Both are planning on running for major offices in the near future; VP Pence likely on the ticket with Pres. Trump for reelection in 2020 and Kobach has already launched his campaign for Governor of Kansas in 2018. Three previous federal elections commissions were each c o-chaired by a Democrat and a Republican who would not be running for office after their term on their commission. In total, there are 12 members on PACEI, seven Republicans and five Democrats. Therein lies a second problem with this commission; there is not equal...