Labor Studies Professor Stephanie Luce writes about organizing in the labor movement to defend democracy in the event of a contested election. She notes that some unions are trying to connect their core activists with local “protect the vote” groupings in key states and cities to show up to polls and fight to make sure every vote is counted.
Last Friday, members of the broader SLU community gathered for a discussion about voter suppression and the pathway to expanding the vote:
Given the especially high stakes of the 2020 election, the need for broad and unobstructed voter participation could not be greater. Yet the past decade has seen a plethora of legal curtailments on voting rights. Since 2010, 25 states have adopted strict photo ID requirements, curbs on early voting, and voter registration restrictions that have all served to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a major win of the Civil Rights movement. Finally, the perennial challenge of voter turnout still exists – over 25% of eligible voters are unregistered, and only 50% of registered voters are expected to vote, making the prospects for a truly democratic election in 2020 very concerning.
What lessons can be gleaned from a long history of heroic efforts to ensure equal voting opportunities and rights for all? What are advocates, unions, and other activists doing to combat voter suppression and promote voter registration and turnout in the upcoming election? What should be the top legislative priorities of a more progressive, post-2020 federal government to strengthen our democracy by expanding the vote?
Gloria Browne-Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Gerry Hudson Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Deepak Bhargava Distinguished Lecturer, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies Former Executive Director, Center for Community Change
Two organizations that come from different eras and different universes have joined forces to register voters and promote political involvement among New Yorkers. On Monday, the Amalgamated Bank and Rock the Vote announced a partnership to register voters for the November election. The bank will distribute voter registration forms in its twenty New York branches, sponsor an advertising campaign promoting registration, and join Rock the Vote in a national coalition to counter voter suppression.