Taking place in Portland, Oregon, the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation’s annual Spring Convening allowed Cedric (FCCP Steering Committee member) and myself (former program director at FCCP) another great opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest happening in the field of civic engagement and to do so alongside our philanthropic colleagues.
Among many things discussed, one in particular has been of particular concern – voter suppression as a point of intersection, as an issue where separate attacks on various communities add up to something more insidious.
All data points to a new demographic reality by 2045. It’s around that year that people of color are expected to comprise the majority of the population. By most definitions, a healthy democracy would demand a parallel trend in the demographic composition of the electorate and of who votes.
This, though, isn’t the way our country is moving forward. There’s a fight right now over the composition of our electorate, both directly and less so. Here are three arenas where those fights are taking place and recent links to learn a little more about each:
- Voter ID Laws and the Voter Fraud Bogeyman – “How States are Rigging the 2012 Election” by EJ Dionne in the Washington Post
- Mass Incarceration within the U.S., namely 1 in 15 African American males ages 18 & older (combine this with voting laws disenfranchising formerly incarcerated individuals) – “[Infographic] Combating Mass Incarceration – The Facts,” ACLU
- Criminalization of Immigrants (combine this with denial of citizenship status) – “Immigrants for Sale” Video, Cuentame
The prospect of an increasingly unrepresentative electorate raises large questions, including for me: how does the ratio of residents to eligible voters, particularly if these attacks continue and succeed, compare historically? How does the ratio of residents to eligible voters compare across countries? Given the answers to these questions, how will people and parties respond to the implications of these numbers? How will they respond to the implications about what the numbers say about who we are as a country, where we’re headed and how and by whom our country will be governed?