Full disclosure, I recorded today’s interview about election reforms in January before the debacle that was the Iowa Caucus. We also don’t talk about caucuses, but that’s a solid candidate for a follow-up episode on democracy reform. On this episode, I talked with Joshua Douglas, Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky Rosenberg College of Law and author of the book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting. Today’s conversation is very much a related conversation to the one I had with Professor Irving Joyner last year about voting rights fights in North Carolina.
There is a lot of ground to cover under democracy reform that spans multiple policy areas, but if I had to try to put the reforms under one umbrella, I’d say Prof. Douglas’s main focus is on increasing access to voting. The conversation spans from less covered reforms like lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 or 17 and incorporating civic engagement in high school civics education to oft-discussed topics like gerrymandering, money in politics, and “fake news.”
The other thing that we discuss, and that is the underlying theme in Vote for US, is the importance of the grassroots movement. The point Prof. Douglas makes is that major reforms to our democracy don’t work best and are most likely succeed when they bubble up from the grassroots as opposed to when they’re pushed onto voters from the top-down. The grassroots support demonstrates buy-in on a reform that can’t be replicated when the process starts at elected leaders and trickles down to Americans.
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