Voting in America
Presented in partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and South Carolina ETV
Tuesdays, September 1, 8, 15, 2020 via Zoom
6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Register here today!
The history of voting in America makes plain that voting rules have always been entangled with broader issues of wealth, class and race, and political parties. At our country’s founding, only white men who owned property were allowed to vote. 244 years later, we celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote for white women, and the sesquicentennial of the 15th Amendment, declaring that the right to vote cannot be denied because of a person’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Despite these constitutional amendments, controversies over voting rights, voter fraud, and the value of an individual’s vote abound. While some fear voting by mail will lead to widespread voter fraud, others worry that without it, they will be forced to spend several hours waiting for the opportunity to cast a ballot, perhaps endangering their health due to COVID-19. Moreover, in 2021, new Congressional districts and local government districts will be redrawn based on the information gained from the 2020 census. In most states, including South Carolina, those who are in places of political power get to choose whose votes count the most.
This year’s presidential election is happening not only during a pandemic, but also during a time of declining trust in our democratic institutions. Fears are real among voters who don’t want to risk their health by going to the polls, and a greater number of mail-in votes will undoubtedly slow the timeline for determining the winner. In addition, our election infrastructure needs updating to protect against its demonstrated vulnerabilities; it’s uncertain how well it can handle the anticipated large voter turnout in November. If the election is close, or if it takes weeks or even months to determine the outcome, how much impact will the ongoing incendiary rhetoric about stolen elections, fraud, and Russian interference have on Americans who don’t trust the process?
Join us all three Tuesday evenings as we examine the history of voting in America and the struggle for enfranchisement among the poor, women, Black Americans, and Native Americans (Sept. 1), the ongoing struggle against Gerrymandering, voter and election fraud, and voter suppression (Sept. 8), and how we can safeguard the integrity of our election infrastructure and process (Sept. 15). Ultimately, as we face these challenges, we ask ourselves, “Will our 244-year-old experiment in democracy succeed?”
To view all biographies, click here.
Session 3 | September 15
Democracy at Risk: Safeguarding Votes, Voters, and Election Integrity
Commemorating Constitution Day 2020
As we move toward the 2020 presidential election, many Americans are worried about fraud with mail-in voting, while others are fearful they will have to wait for hours to be able to vote. Some are concerned about the vulnerabilities that exist in our election infrastructure and how the system might be compromised in the upcoming election. Moreover, given Americans’ declining trust in democratic institutions, how will the losing party respond if the outcome of the election is close? What does the Constitution really say about how we choose our president?
Moderated by Teresa Nesbitt Cosby (bio), associate professor of politics and international affairs, specializing in constitutional law and racial and ethnic politics, Furman University
Robert Costa (bio), moderator and managing editor, Washington Week on PBS, and national political reporter, The Washington Post
Ned Foley (bio), director of the election law program and Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law, The Ohio State University, and author, Presidential Elections and Majority Rule and Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States
Michael McRobbie, PhD (bio), president, Indiana University, and co-chair, Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy, a 2018 consensus study report of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine