WXXI AM News

Voting rights

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

James Brown / WXXI News

U.S. attorney James Kennedy, whose office covers the Rochester area, said on Thursday that the Department of Justice and the FBI have increased security and monitoring measures to address any voter interference through Election Day, including harassment and intimidation.

Kennedy said that actions like videotaping or photographing voters at polling places for the sole purpose of uncovering illegal voting may violate federal law. He said that there is no specific threat for voters at this time in Western New York.

Is it time to change the voting age to 16? This week NPR profiled the man who is leading a national movement on lowering the voting age. He argues that young Americans will have to live longer with the consequences of policy making, so they should be able to join the voting process sooner. Critics argue that adults age 18-29 barely vote as it is.

Our guests debate the merits of changing the voting age:

  • Paul Hypolite, public affairs strategist
  • Allison Bourgeois, high school junior
  • Gary Pudup, veteran campaign organizer

The Susan B. Anthony Museum and House rejected President Trump's pardon of Susan B. Anthony last week. Trump pardoned Anthony last Tuesday on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Anthony was arrested in 1872 for voting before it was legal for women to do so. Some historians say Anthony would not have wanted to be pardoned because she didn't think she did anything wrong.

This hour, we discuss Anthony's legacy, the suffragist movement, and the state of equal rights and voting rights in America a century after most women earned the right to vote. Our guests:

Christina Korp/Look Up to Her / Projection mapping partner: Quince Imaging

While President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Mount Rushmore as part of an Independence Day celebration later this week, plans are underway for another type of commemoration, marking the contributions made during the women’s suffrage movement.

Christina Korp is the producer of a project called Look Up to Her, and it is one of the ways the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission is helping celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which was written to guarantee and protect a woman’s constitutional right to vote.

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

Max Schulte/WXXI News

Organizers say this year, Rochester and the Finger Lakes region will be the center of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, when the U.S. recognized women's right to vote.

2020 is also the 200th birthday of Susan B. Anthony.  Deborah Hughes, president and CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, says the suffrage leader's work is not a conversation about the past; it remains relevant today when voter access is still an issue.