Gilda R. Daniels has spent almost three decades at the intersection of law and voting rights. Currently litigation director at the Advancement Project, a liberal nonprofit focused on advancing racial justice, she's also interim director of the group's voting rights efforts. A law professor at the University of Baltimore, she was a senior Civil Rights Division official at the Justice Department in both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. She's become best known to the general public, though, with this year's publication of "Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in America" (NYU Press). Her answers have been slightly edited for clarity.
What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?
Voter fatigue and voter suppression.
Morgan is director of the Declaration for American Democracy, a coalition of 145-plus organizations from the labor, racial justice, faith, women's rights, environment, good government and many other communities.
This is the second in a series of opinion pieces we are publishing during Women's History Month to recognize the contributions of women to the democracy reform movement.
This month is a time to reflect on the incredible work women activists have done to gain full and equal participation in democracy. It's also a time to reflect on the ways our democracy still shuts people out — and how we can join reformers to push solutions forward.
Women have been driving democracy reform for centuries. The dominant narrative of the suffrage movement is familiar, beginning with the Seneca Falls convention in 1848, featuring well-known activists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and culminating with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. These bold reformers redefined democracy for women. Thanks to them, this Women's History Month we celebrate not only the successes of the suffrage movement but also a record number of women in Congress and the multiple women who have sought the presidency this year.
The hours-long lines that confronted hundreds of thousands of Texans on Super Tuesday are sure to be even worse in November unless the state's new ban on straight-ticket voting is reversed, Democrats maintain in the fifth voting rights lawsuit they've filed in the state in recent months.
Permitting voters to make a single choice on the ballot, in favor of all the candidates of their political party, has been a feature of Texas elections for a century and was the way two-thirds of the state's voters, 5.6 million of them, cast ballots in the 2018 midterm. But the Republican Legislature has voted to eliminate that option starting this fall.
Doing so will "unjustifiably and discriminatorily burden Texans' fundamental right to vote" in an election where historic turnout is anticipated," the lawsuit argues. "Texas has recklessly created a recipe for disaster at the polls."
Republicans in charge of the Arizona Legislature are hoping to restrict the powers of the state's independent redistricting commission before the new maps are drawn next year.
At issue is just how close to identical in population the state's legislative districts should be. A variation of as much as 10 percent had been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, and at the start of this decade the independent panel used that benchmark— which means about 20,000 people in Arizona — in order to create several reliably Democratic districts where Latinos and Native Americans were very likely to get elected.
GOP lawmakers are now pushing a measure that would limit the population differential to 5,000 in the coming decade, hoping that would help them secure more seats and grow their narrow majorities at the statehouse in Phoenix.