Campus Vote Project Blog

The CVP Blog keeps you up-to-date on the latest election-related information and provides insight on how to best engage with students, campus administrators and election officials.

The Download on Voting Rights

The end of summer vacation may be difficult, but we want to make it a bit easier with some of our favorite podcast episodes covering the history of voting and voting rights. The Axe Files: Episode 162, An Interview with John Lewis Congressman John Lewis joins David in Atlanta to talk about his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement, how far America has come on the issue of race, his views on President Donald Trump, and his emotional reaction to an audio exhibit at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. We the People: Voting Rights in the Courts Following ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1860, many states used poll taxes, literacy tests, and other means to prevent newly freed African Americans and other minorities from voting. A century later, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided a variety of ways for the federal government and the federal courts to ensure that the right to vote was not denied on the basis of race. Decode DC: Episode 203, What you Should Know about Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission President Trump believes he would have won the popular vote — if it weren’t for the 3 million people that voted illegally. Even though there’s no evidence to support his claim, he put together a commission to look into the issue. They’ve already been pretty active, asking for voter data from all 50 states. But what exactly is going on with this commission, and what can we expect? Predicting our Future: Episode 7, Can Online Voting Defeat the Broken Electoral College In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a little over a...

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...

NH House to Vote on Student Voter Suppression Bill

by Brittnie Baker, Counsel SB 3, which has already passed the Senate and is poised to move through the House this week, will adversely impact the ability of many qualified voters – and particularly students – to register and vote in New Hampshire. The bill requires voters to provide documentation of actions to prove they are domiciled and living in New Hampshire. This law is unnecessary and only erects barriers to voters rather than encouraging them to be active citizens. At the April 18 House Election Law Committee hearing on the bill, a recurring theme was whether college and university students who are originally from out of state should be allowed to vote in New Hampshire while they are attending school.  Any suggestion that students living and attending school in New Hampshire do not have the right to vote in New Hampshire is wrong and damaging not only to students who are civically engaged in their school community, but to our democracy as a whole. Students have the right to vote where they attend college, if they so choose. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld this right in Symm v. United States in 1979.  This ruling determined that students may not be treated different than any other potential voter based simply on their status as a student.  A student’s living arrangement at school – whether the student lives on campus, or a rental off campus – does not impact their ability to register and vote at that address. The list of actions to prove domicile in SB 3 are quite restrictive for students, many of whom may not have access to a...

SCOTUS Delivers Victory for Voting Rights in NC

by Rachel Clay, Southeast Regional Coordinator On Monday, April 15, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear North Carolina’s appeal of a federal court of appeals ruling which struck down parts of a restrictive voting law in the state. After years of battling in the courts, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last July found that the state legislature explicitly set out to discover the kind of voting methods minority voters use most often, like early voting on Sundays, and roll back or eliminate them, targeting African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” While the ruling struck down a number of restrictive voting laws, one of the most notable is the elimination of the voter ID requirement. The significance of a victory like this, in North Carolina, a state deeply embedded in history as a battleground for civil and voting rights, should not be lost. In 2013, the Supreme Court nullified parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, removing existing preclearance requirements and causing the VRA to be all but unenforceable. North Carolina was covered under preclearance prior to this decision, and preclearance served to protect the rights of African American and minority voters. North Carolina become the first state after the 2013 decision to enact a voter suppression law free of the oversight of preclearance. In the month following the decision, the state Senate transformed Bill 589, a 16-page bill about voter ID laws, to a 56-page bill that would be the worst voter suppression bill in North Carolina history, and arguably the country. The bill proposed strict voter ID requirements, a reduction in early voting days, the...

Make MLK Day a Day of Service

By Debi Lombardi, CVP Field Director The right to vote is a critical piece of our civil rights.  It wasn’t until the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870 that African American men gained the right to the ballot box, almost a 100 years after the United States was founded. Still, weighted down by poll taxes, literacy tests, racism, fear mongering, and other means of oppression many did not vote or even get registered for nearly 100 more years. The 1960s Civil Rights movement and the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 eventually enabled many African Americans to cast a ballot. Today, we celebrate one prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During his famous “Give us the Ballot” speech, he states, “The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition. And so our most urgent request to the president of the United States and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote.” The fight for access to the ballot for many Americans continues to this day and Dr. King’s words and efforts to protect the rights of all Americans inspire those who work to protect the right to vote. Each Martin Luther King Day, Americans come together in acts of service to honor the Civil Rights leader. In light of King’s fight for voting rights and dedication to service, here are some ways you can participate in this day and continue Dr. King’s mission. Register to vote. The federal election is over but there will be many local and...