Going into a pivotal national election, voter suppression threatens to tilt election results in states across the country and drown out the rising influence of both minority and young voters in America.
After the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, voting restrictions, predominantly engineered by Republicans, have proliferated in size and scale. Using tactics such as voter ID laws, voting precinct consolidation, gerrymandering and voter purging, the people in charge of voting at the state and federal levels have made it harder for non-white, poor and young voters to cast their ballots.
We’re excited to host a discussion with individuals who have dedicated their careers to making sure everyone who wants to vote in America has the right to do so. They’ll discuss the consequences of voter suppression, what everyone can do to advocate, and the fight ahead.
Ari Berman is a senior reporter for Mother Jones, covering voting rights. In addition to voting rights, his writing covers American politics and the impact of money on our electoral system. His critically acclaimed book Give Us the Ballotcovers the time since the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the turbulent forces it unleashed, and the continuing battles over race, representation and political power.
As president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), Kristen Clarke leads one of the country’s most important national civil rights organizations in the pursuit of equal justice for all. In addition to voting rights, the Lawyers’ Committee seeks to promote fair housing and community development, economic justice, equal educational opportunity, criminal justice, judicial diversity and more. Prior to the Lawyers’ Committee, Clarke led the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s work in the areas of voting rights and election law across the country.
Alex Padilla has served as California’s secretary of state since 2015, and he’s prioritized increasing voter registration and participation and strengthening voting rights. While California has the highest number of registered voters in America at more than 15 million people, the state’s population of almost 40 million means it has the second-lowest percentage of registered voters when compared to population. With initiatives like the Motor Voter Act, Padilla and his office are working to raise that number.
As president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Michael Waldman leads the center’s initiatives on voting rights, money in politics, criminal justice reform and constitutional law. The Brennan Center is widely regarded as a leading organization on voter rights and election security, and Waldman and his team are on the forefront of the fight to vote.
Senior Reporter, Mother Jones; Author, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
President and Executive Director, National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
California Secretary of State
President, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law—Moderator
The leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues important to the membership, community and nation. The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. Each year, we bring nearly 500 events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to more than 25,000 members and the public, both in-person and via an extensive online and on-air listenership and viewership.
San Francisco Headquarters
110 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
P.O. Box 194210
San Francisco, CA 94119–4210