The Brennan Center for Justice, a progressive think tank at New York University Law School, is one of the preeminent groups pushing for a comprehensive, reliable and safe election during the coronavirus pandemic. And helming that litigation, research and lobbying effort is Myrna Pérez. She runs the voting rights and elections program and has been with the Brennan Center most of her professional life, arriving after a stint at a civil rights firm in Washington and clerkships for federal trial and appeals court judges in Philadelphia. Before getting a law degree from Columbia in 2003, she was a health care and housing analyst for what's now called the Government Accountability Office, the congressional oversight agency. Her answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?
Politicians manipulating the rules so some of us can't vote.
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- 1,700 poll closings in places no longer under preclearance - The ... ›
Some North Carolinians with felony records will have their voting rights restored in time for the election.
A panel of three state judges has temporarily blocked part of a state law that prevents former felons from registering if they have outstanding fines or fees. Unless there's a successful appeal of Friday's 2-1 ruling, it opens the door for thousands to vote in one of this year's most important states — where the contest for 15 electoral votes is a tossup and so is a Senate race that will help determine partisan control of Congress.
North Carolina is one of 20 states where felons can vote after their prison time, probation and parole are complete. Civil rights advocates argue that requiring former felons to also pay fines or fees before being allowed back in the voting booth is the equivalent of an unconstitutional poll tax.
- Expansion of felon voting rights advances in New Jersey - The ... ›
- Virginia Gov. Northam restores voting rights to felons - The Fulcrum ›
- Expansion of felons' voting rights fails in Washington state - The ... ›
- Felon voting rights effort moves ahead in Iowa - The Fulcrum ›
- Appeals court blocks ruling allowing Florida felons to vote - The ... ›
- Movement to restore felons' voting rights keeps growing, and in ... ›
- Pressure rising on Iowa gov. to restore felon voting rights - The ... ›
- Voting rights for convicted felons - Ballotpedia ›
- State Felon Voting Laws - Felon Voting - ProCon.org ›
- Felony Disenfranchisement Laws (Map) | American Civil Liberties ... ›
- Felon Voting Rights ›
- Can Felons Vote? It Depends on the State - The New York Times ›
- Lawsuit seeks to restore voting rights to North Carolinians with ... ›
- NC felons will get some voting rights back for 2020: Lawsuit ... ›
Correction: An earlier version misstated details of the executive order.
Iowa's governor decreed Wednesday that most felons in the state may vote starting this fall, ending the state's status as the only place in the country where convicted criminals are denied the franchise forever.
Expanding the political rights of people who've been to prison has been a top cause of voting rights groups for years, but the cause has gained fresh urgency this summer as the nation undergoes an intense reckoning with systemic racism — especially in the law enforcement system.
"It's a big step for so many on the road to redemption," Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said as she signed an executive order in her Des Moines office, fulfilling a promise she made two months ago after the General Assembly deadlocked on a more complex plan for eventually returning the vote to felons.
- Washington could restore felon voting rights after prison - The Fulcrum ›
- Brennan Center, LWW call out Iowa for voting rights errors - The ... ›
- Reynolds renews push to restore voting rights to Iowa felons - The ... ›
Organizer: Braver Angels
Resolved: People who have been convicted of a crime should be eligible to vote in all elections.
You probably haven't experienced anything like a Braver Angels Debate. It's not a political debate, where competing candidates attempt to win votes. Nor is it a competitive high school or college debate, where people advocate positions in which they may not believe for the sole purpose of vanquishing their foes.
A Braver Angels Debate is a highly structured conversation in which a group of people think together, listen carefully to one another, and allow themselves to be touched and perhaps changed by each other's ideas. When done well, everyone walks out a little closer to the truth, more aware of the validity in opposing views, and with tighter community relationships.