Across the U.S., effective initiatives to increase civic engagement are being deployed to connect with voters, to ensure that they have the information and tools they need to vote, and to address structural issues that can make voting more difficult, especially for certain populations. Many of these projects involve reaching out to specific populations – such as young people or communities of color – to provide meaningful opportunities for civic participation, register new voters, and/or provide election day support. Other solutions are aimed at making voting easier and more convenient on a larger scale, with some organizations lobbying for things like early voting and no-excuse absentee voting and voting-by-app opportunities being tested for disabled citizens and/or voters living overseas.
Much of the work done in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election laid the groundwork for more permanent efforts to increase voter participation through increased civic participation, voter education and registration, and election day get-out-the-vote campaigns. This collection brings together valuable reporting on the innovative and successful ways organizations across the political spectrum are working to increase voter participation in the United States. For more collections on this theme, try this one on the youth vote; this one on gerrymandering; or this one on racial equality and voter suppression.
- In your own words, summarize how the intersections of race, class, and disability impact American voter turn-out rates.
- According to Pew Research data, voter participation rates in the U.S. lag far behind other developed democratic nations. Consider your own history of voting; have you cast a vote in every election in which you were eligible (including local elections)? If not, why not? Which of the initiatives discussed in this collection might have been successful in convincing you to vote during an election cycle you missed?
- Pamela Kirkland's podcast episode explores how the Cook County jail in Chicago is expanding voting access to Americans in custody who are still awaiting court dates (in other words, who have not been charged yet). However, even the laws governing the voting privileges of those with criminal convictions vary widely from state to state. What are the felony disenfranchisement laws in your state? Who is most likely to be impacted by these laws? Do you think these laws should be updated - and why or why not?
- SJN's Success Factors Success Factors are the tactics that are critical to the success or failure of a response to a given issue or problem. A success factor can be used as an answer to the question “what social change strategy did this solution use that made it work (or not work)?” Choose a factor and use it to analyze the solutions within this collection.
- Journalism is a collaborative practice: reporters are writing for their community, but they also depend on community members as sources for information. Indeed, the very purpose of journalism, according to the American Press Institute, is to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments. With that in mind, SJN wants to help connect news readers and journalists. Beside the name of the journalist on any of our story pages or the results page of the Solutions Story Tracker, you’ll find a Twitter icon that will link you directly to the journalists profile. Tweet at them with questions or compliments about their piece - you might be surprised by how much writers want to engage with their audiences! Don’t forget to tag us too (@soljourno) and use the hashtag #journalistintheclassroom if you are reading as part of an academic assignment.
- Throughout the history of the United States, many efforts have been made at local, state, and national levels to limit voting rights to a select group. Legislation specifically supporting disabled Americans' access to the polls was not passed until 1965. Black Americans (and other people of color) continued to face unfair restrictions more than 150 years after slavery was abolished in this nation, and indeed are still subject to gerrymandering and restrictive policies such as voter ID laws that limit their full democratic participation. A legacy of structural racism also means that Black Americans are more likely to be impacted by felony disenfranchisement rules; nationwide, as of 2016 one in every 13 black adults could not vote as the result of a felony conviction, and in four states – Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia – more than one in five black adults was disenfranchised.