On Demand Audio

Resisting Voter Suppression and Defending the Right to Vote

(371 reviews)

Produced on January 16, 2018

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Course Information

Time 1h 3m
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

Since 2008, states across the country have passed measures to make it harder for Americans - particularly minorities, the elderly, and students or first time voters - to exercise their fundamental right to register, vote, and have their vote counted. These measures include voter ID laws, cuts to early voting, prohibitions on out-of-precinct voting and same-day registration, and purges of states’ voter rolls.

New research suggests that disenfranchisement due to suppressive restrictions may have been outcome determinative in the 2016 presidential election. In June 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, leaving voters even more vulnerable to suppressive legislation. In the past decade, the civil rights community has responded by challenging voter suppression laws in state and federal courts.

This program, taught by ACLU Voting Rights Project attorney Julie Ebenstein, who works on lawsuits challenging these kind of restrictions, will discuss recent developments in voting and election law and strategies to challenge voter suppression through advocacy and litigation.

The program will provide an overview of voter suppression, beginning with the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board to the 2008 election, through the Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder and the period following Shelby County and the dismantled protection of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and what we can expect to face going forward. The course will compare the discrimination that preceded the 1965 Voting Rights Act to modern day second-generation barriers to voting, and include a discussion of the constitutional and legal protections against states’ infringement on voting rights.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Review the history of voter suppression in the U.S.
  2. Assess how second-generation voting barriers impact the modern electorate
  3. Discuss recent court challenges to voter suppression
  4. Identify litigation strategies for protecting the fundamental right to vote going forward

Credit Information

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Julie Ebenstein

American Civil Liberties Union

Julie is a staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Julie is actively involved in litigating voting rights matters around the country, with cases in Kansas (challenging the state dual registration system), Iowa (challenging the state’s felon disenfranchisement laws), North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration) and Ferguson, Missouri (challenging at-large school board elections)

Leading up to the 2012 general election, Julie was a staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida. She was counsel in several voting rights cases, including litigation preventing reductions to early voting, a successful constitutional challenge to restrictions on voter registration drives, a challenge to Florida’s purge of the state voter rolls, and a challenge to the non-uniformity of elections laws among Florida counties. She also wrote and testified on the discriminatory effect of criminal disfranchisement laws and the intersection of over-criminalization and voting rights.

Before joining the ACLU, Julie focused on refugee protection issues, working first with the International Rescue Committee on the Thailand-Myanmar border, then with Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa. Prior to law school, Julie served as Policy & Advocacy Associate with the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Julie is a graduate of Columbia University and Fordham University School of Law. She is admitted to practice in New York and Florida.


Stuti D.

very good presenter - knowledgeable and relayed the information well

Nicole V C.

Very informative. Thank you! Please ask her back for an update!

Richard C.

Wonderful program. Contains excellent background materials as we head toward the next Presidential election. Thank you.

Rene B.

Excellent content.

gerard m.

Great presentation of a serious topic for all speaker was clear precise and knowledgeable made me proud to be a member of the aclu and showed in the cases discussed why we should all be members

Scott B.

Excellent presentation! Very informative, and I wish she had the time to get all the way through the materials. Really great.

Daniel G.

speaker was terrific obviously knows the topic well great job

David H.

Excellent and knowledgeable

Jeannine R.

Good summary of recent case law

James H.

Excellent survey of voting rights litigation and law

Major R. C.

Great program.

Laura V.

Excellent program!

Diane V.

Excellent presentation

Judith A.

Great speaker! Very knowledgeable and interesting!

Leonard G.

Very good job!

Steven V.

Amazing coverage of complex material in a short time

Gwendolyn J.

Very informative and engaging.

Allen A.

ACLU Voting Rights lawyer talking about many of her own cases! Top quality!

Robert C.

Excellent. Thank you, Julie, and Thank you, ACLU!!!

Carolyn B D.

Excellent presentation!

Jamie M.

Wonderful! Would love to see more of these on here.

Joel F.

Excellent presentation.

Marian B.

Very good

Elizabeth S.

Best program I have listened to so far. Very clear and easy to follow- and important.

Carol G.

Very clear straightforward presentation. Excellent.

Stuart W.

Very well done, but depressing.

Gregory C.

Presenter and presentation we're both excellent and very informative.

Henry G.

Excellent informative course and speaker.

Deborah R.

Excellent summation and presentation

Ruth G.

Extremely informed, clear presenter

Michael L.

The instructor and course were fabulous!

Betty L.

Really good!

Laura Aylett C.

This was the best program yet

Dianne S.

Very interesting and thorough in a short period of time. Thank you.

Brandan B.

Julie Ebenstein was well prepared and had comprehensive slides. I really enjoyed this presentation.

Kris W.

Very organized and well put together. Great job.

Kerry L.

This topic is fascinating. The presenter was knowledgable and interesting. Good course.

Jeffrey H.

Well done

Teige W.

Very clear, engaging speaker.

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