Uncounted: The History and Impact of Voter Suppression

This year, 160 bills have been introduced in 33 states that would restrict voting—four times as many as during the same period in 2020.

American democracy is often spoken of in lofty language, but between the lines is a more troubling story of exclusion and discrimination. Historically, voter suppression has taken many forms, including limiting eligibility to white male landowners, Jim Crow-era methods like poll taxes and literacy tests, and modern-day disinformation campaigns. The conspiracy theory about a stolen election in 2020 is proving useful to bolster support for another round of restrictions.

Yet the American story is also one of progress, including women’s suffrage and the Voting Rights Act. This online discussion explores the forces that push and pull on our right to vote. How does our past impede our future, both nationally and in Washington? What does modern-day voter suppression look like? Though Washington’s mail-in voting system is considered a nationwide model, what problems remain in our state? Where can we find hope? And how can we simply ensure that every vote—and every voter—counts.

Featuring Angelique M. Davis, professor of political science at Seattle University; Representative Debra Lekanoff, 40th Legislative District; Josué Estrada, University of Washington doctoral candidate in history; and Terry Anne Scott, director of African American Studies at Hood College. Moderated by Johann Neem, professor of history at Western Washington University.

This event is part of Humanities Washington’s initiative “Re:building Democracy,” a deep dive into the state of democracy, voting, and civic engagement. Presented in partnership with stations KUOW (Seattle), KPBX (Spokane), and Northwest Public Broadcasting (statewide); and produced with the support of the Mellon Foundation and the Federation of State Humanities Councils.


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