Get Out and Vote

Voter turnout thoughtout the country is likely to be low on Election Day 2011 except for highly disputed contests such as those in Ohio where voters decide Issue 2, a Referendum on New Law Relative to Government Union Contracts, and Mississippi where they vote on Initiative #26, a citizen-led measure to amend the Mississippi constitution to define human life as starting at “the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” Low turnout is most pronounced in off-year elections for state legislators and local officials. Too often, mayors of major cities often are elected with single-digit turnout.

Even so, Election Day is a time to reflect on the hard won history of expanding access to the polls. The ACLU notes that this Election Day, we are faced with a dramatic rollback of voting access with a trend of voter suppression laws introduced and enacted in many state legislatures. During the 2011 legislative season, more than 30 states legislatures introduced such measures and 14 states advanced measures that would create more barriers to voting.

On the subject of voting, the Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection Race, Reform, and Regulation of the Electoral Process: Recurring Puzzles in American Democracy edited by Guy-Uriel E. Charles, Heather K. Gerken and Michael S. Kang. It offers a critical re-evaluation of three fundamental themes in American democracy: the relationship between race and politics, the performance and reform of election systems, and the role of courts in regulating the political process. With contributions from leading voices in election law and social science, it addresses recurring questions for American democracy and identifies new challenges for the twenty-first century. The book provides intellectual guideposts for future scholarship and policymaking in American democracy.