Law; Election Law


Protesting Black votes is part of our history of rejecting Black Americans as legitimate wielders of political power and contesting the fullness of Black citizenship. Obviously, hostility toward viewing Black Americans as deserving of the rights owed to other Americans is present in nearly every aspect of American life. But, among the oldest and most contentious hostilities—from the Civil War to Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement to contemporary voter suppression efforts—has been the resistance against Black votes. Any opportunity to quell this locus of racial animus calls for urgent address. Particularly, at this moment, when long-standing prophylactic measures such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) are being dismantled, a permanent solution to Black disenfranchisement, its material costs, and its symbolic harm, should be pressing. One simple, if not (politically) easy, solution beckons. Notwithstanding sporadic academic attention, compulsory voting and its connection to Black citizenship has not, to my knowledge, been explored in legal literature. The possible effects of compulsory voting on political inequality, particularly across wealth and class, have been intermittently examined. Scholars who have argued for compulsory voting have also noted the potential material effects of compulsory voting on minority communities, in passing. But, the important symbolic antidote that compulsory voting offers to the history of racist attacks on Black voting remains unexplored.

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