Throughout history, too many Americans have been disenfranchised or faced needless barriers to voting. Part of the blame falls on the Constitution, which does not contain an affirmative right to vote. The Supreme Court has made matters worse by failing to protect voting rights and limiting Congress’s ability to do so. The time has come for voters to take action and push for an amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee this right for all.
Drawing on troubling stories of state attempts to disenfranchise military voters, women, African Americans, students, former felons, Native Americans, and others, Richard Hasen argues that American democracy can and should do better in assuring that all eligible voters can cast a meaningful vote that will be fairly counted. He shows how a constitutional right to vote can deescalate voting wars between political parties that lead to endless rounds of litigation and undermine voter confidence in elections, and can safeguard democracy against dangerous attempts at election subversion like the one we witnessed in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
The path to a constitutional amendment is undoubtedly hard, especially in these polarized times. A Real Right to Vote explains what’s in it for conservatives who have resisted voting reform and reveals how the pursuit of an amendment can yield tangible dividends for democracy long before ratification.
Richard L. Hasen is professor of law and political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of UCLA Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project. His books include Cheap Speech, Election Meltdown, and The Voting Wars.
Hasen will be in conversation with Rep. Jamie Raskin, Sherrilyn Iffil, and Pam Fessler. Rep. Jamie Raskin proudly represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to his time in Congress, Raskin was a three-term State Senator in Maryland, where he also served as the Senate Majority Whip. He was also a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years. He has authored several books, including the Washington Post best-seller Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People, the highly-acclaimed We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About America’s Students, and the New York Times #1 best-seller Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy.
Sherrilyn Ifill is a civil rights lawyer and scholar. From 2013-2022, she served as the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization, fighting for racial justice and equality. She most recently served as a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation. In 2024 Ifill will become the inaugural Vernon L. Jordan Chair in Civil Rights at Howard Law School, where will become the founding Director of the 14th Amendment Center for Law & Democracy. Her book On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century, was highly acclaimed, and is credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation. She continues to write scholarly articles and is currently completing a book about race and the current crisis in American democracy entitled Is This America? which will be published by Penguin Press in 2024. Ifill graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English and earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law. She is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2021.
Pam Fessler was an editor and correspondent at NPR News for more than 28 years. As a correspondent on the National Desk, she covered voting issues, poverty, and philanthropy.