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Current Issues

Start exploring resources for various current issues.

Introduction & Background

image of timeline for voting rights 1776 - current dateVoting rights have never been straightforward or universal in the United States, and full effective enfrachisement has been a gradual shift over the past 200-odd years of our history (see timeline at right). Even today there are issues of access and equity for voters. While most citizens have been recognized as having the right to vote, there is now debate about whether felons should have voting rights reinstated.

In 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down parts of the 1965 Voting Rights act, which has contributed to the reduced numbers of polling places. 

Income and job types potentially create an unofficial class barrier to voting, based on who can get to the polls on Election Day, while lower-income areas are more likely to have fewer polling places (and therefore longer waits).

Voting by mail -- and the frequent specter of voter fraud -- has been an ongoing debate for the 2020 election.

Click the image to view larger, pdf version of timeline.

Finding Resources

Important terms and concepts that are part of the overall issue of voting rights will help you both explore the possibilities as well as give you some starting search terms.

  • Voter ID laws
  • Voter registration
    • some states automatically register voters with their driver license registration
  • Suffrage, enfranchisement
    • Felons
  • Polling places, polls -- access, hours, locations, waiting times
    • vote by mail restrictions
  • Voter fraud -- the reason behind many restrictions
    • Fraud includes voting multiple times, voting when prohibited (e.g. due to felony conviction), voting in someone else's name
  • Voter suppression -- the consequence (and sometimes intended goal) of tighter requirements for registration and reduced polling locations; voters are discouraged by the barriers and do not turn out to vote in elections

Find deeper analysis from experts with this type of academic source. (Note: some databases, like Academic Search Complete, contain a mixture of source types: look for filters to limit to scholarly.)

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