Lift every voice: The urgency of universal civic duty voting


Monday, July 20, 2020, 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Register for this event on the Ash Center webpage.

Imagine an American democracy where the election system was designed to allow citizens to perform their most basic civic duty with ease and without obstruction. Imagine every citizen treating voting as a civic duty, a society where nearly everyone voted.

Our current crisis of governance has focused unprecedented public attention on intolerable inequities and demands that Americans think boldly and consider reforms that until now seemed beyond our reach. A new report from The Brookings Institution and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School explores the idea of requiring every eligible citizen to participate in our elections.

In 26 countries across the world, there is some form of civic duty voting. What would this system look like in the United States? How could universal civic duty voting change the dynamic of our elections and campaigning? Does this proposal pass constitutional muster? What do Americans think of civic duty voting? These questions and more are addressed in a forthcoming report, “Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting.”

On July 20, Governance Studies at Brookings and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School will cohost a webinar to discuss key takeaways from the forthcoming paper on civic duty voting. Panelists will discuss the current state of our election system and transformative steps lawmakers can take to increase turnout and make our elections truly representative.

Panelists include

Cornell William Brooks
Hauser Professor of the Practice of Nonprofit Organizations and Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice - Harvard Kennedy School

Brenda Wright

Senior Advisor, Legal Strategies - Demos

María Teresa Kumar

President and CEO - Voto Latino

Janai Nelson

Associate Director-Counsel - NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Miles Rapoport

Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation - Harvard Kennedy School (Co-Moderator)

E.J. Dionne, Jr.

W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow - Governance Studies (Co-Moderator)

Viewers can submit questions for speakers by emailing or via Twitter at @BrookingsGov or with #UniversalVoting.