Case for Equity
True democracy is one in which there is competition over ideas and wherein citizens voice their support for visions for our nation. It is a system based on respect, tolerance, and protection for all voices. In contrast, democracy is not a contest of power, or a winner take all system of governance. Moreover, the biggest gains in our nation’s collective prosperity have occurred during or as a result of expanding suffrage to the disenfranchised. Given that voting is the most fundamental of all our rights – a right that safeguards all other rights – voting rights remain our nation’s most critically important civil rights issue.
Our nation has a shameful history of denying the right to vote to women and people of color. The nation’s legacy of disenfranchisement is clearly on display in research showing that voter participation by people of color is lowest in communities that have a higher number of historical lynchings (Williams 2017). The American South is where this legacy plays out most undoubtedly and where we can tie that history to modern-day practices. Those modern-day policies have been shown to have a disproportionately negative impact on people of color (Johnson 2020). Policies like voter ID laws hamper voting access by low-income and people of color to a much larger degree than white voters. Correcting this reality is critical if we are to realize our nation’s potential for growth and if we are to live up to the ideals of the nation’s founding.