The passage of voting rights legislation encompasses the adoption of a range of policies at the federal, state, and local levels. These policies are collectively aimed at expanding access to the polls, eliminating barriers to voting, adequately funding elections, establishing fair rules regarding drawing district boundaries, providing funding for publicly financed elections, and a range of other provisions. In general, this policy would build upon the 1965 Voting Rights Act and add provisions for modern-day voting rights problems.
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 remains 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.
Return on Investment
The return on investment for this policy is rated as HIGH. The policy is likely to have a positive impact on government revenues, family and individual life outcomes (across several indicators), and broad societal outcomes.
The research base is rated as being MEDIUM to HIGH. The scope of the research is broad, and its overall quality is high.
State & Local Ease of Implementation
This policy is rated as having a HARD level of implementation difficulty. The primary variable affecting the difficulty rating of this policy is the political feasibility: the positional alignment of political parties combined with political geography in America. The structural elements scoring dimension is rated as moderate given that there is a need for systemic reform. The hierarchical complexity is high given the statutory interdependence between states and localities on election issues.