WXXI AM News

voting laws

On this Election Day, we talk about different voting options -- mail-in, on-demand absentee, and early voting -- and what researchers say the data shows when it comes to outcomes. Do these measures expand voter participation in inclusive ways? Do they protect the secrecy of ballots? Our guests say the research says "no".

Susan Orr and Jim Johnson are political science professors whose work (pre-pandemic) shows that mail-in ballots and other "convenience voting" measures add insecurities to the vote and do little to increase participation. They argue that post-pandemic, voting by mail needs a sunset clause, and voting should be compulsory and secret.

This hour, we discuss their research and their book, "Should Secret Voting Be Mandatory?". Our guests:

  • Susan Orr, associate professor of political science at the State University of Brockport
  • Jim Johnson, political science professor at the University of Rochester

Our guest is an attorney who worked on the Bush/Gore legal dispute over the 2000 election. Jeff Wadsworth was tasked with historical research that could offer some guidance on which ballots should count, and how to protect voting rights. A lot has changed since 2000, but Wadsworth says there are attorneys already working to deal with a close and contested election this time around.

So what issues could cause a legal showdown in 2020? And what did we learn from Bush v Gore? 

This year's state budget included new election rules that will affect third parties. Under the new provisions, political parties in New York must earn at least 130,000 votes -- or two percent of the total vote, whichever is greater -- in the last preceding election for governor, and the same for its candidate for president in a year when a president is elected. Third party officials and members say the rules are unfair.

We explore the issue this hour with our guests:

  • Sochie Nnaemeka, director of the Working Families Party in New York
  • Alex White, member of the Green Party and former candidate for office
  • Lauren Hall, member of the Libertarian Party, and associate professor of political science at RIT

Long lines and malfunctioning voting machines in Georgia's primary election renewed conversations about voting rights, especially those for disenfranchised voters. The New York Times called the issues a "full-scale meltdown of new voting systems." Those systems were put in place after claims of voter suppression in 2018.

Discussions about voter suppression are happening throughout the country, with concerns about what could happen in November. This hour, we're joined by RIT professor Donathan Brown to discuss voting rights and policies. His research focuses on race and public policy, and he's the co-author of "Voting Rights Under Fire: The Continuing Struggle for People of Color." He helps us understand voting issues throughout the country, both past and present. Our guest:

  • Donathan Brown, assistant provost and assistant vice president for faculty diversity and recruitment, and professor in the School of Communication at RIT