Considering the recent congressional events making headlines regarding voting rights, it is fortuitous that I happened to be reading Stacey Abrams’ Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America, from our LexisNexis digital library. Abrams may need no introduction, but for the sake of fastidiousness, I’ll mention she is a history-making Georgia politician, author and voting rights activist. Our Time Is Now provides an overview of voting in the United States, from citizenship to the count, and features stories about her background, but only so far as to illustrate the roots that feed her values and lead her to passionately defend those who find it difficult or impossible to practice their right to participate in the democratic process.
Though semi-autobiographical, most of the stories shared are of Americans, particularly Georgians, struggling to navigate the voting process. Georgia’s voting procedures have been called into question recently after Attorney General, Merrick Garland, announced on June 11th that the Justice Department would “double the [Civil Rights] Division’s enforcement for protecting the right to vote” (view the clip on C-SPAN). Two weeks later, the Justice Department sued Georgia (Balsamo, 2021).
Abrams also discusses the importance of the census and redistricting, and how it affects representation and government funding. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 Census results will be delayed until September 30, 2021 (Bureau, 2021). As a result, the redistricting cycle has been affected, and actions are being taken (go to Ballotpedia to read about 2021 redistricting legislation) surrounding gerrymandering (go to Brennan Center to read about the various effects on 2021 redistricting). Abrams covers the importance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Section 5, providing an historic context for the passage of restrictive and expansive legislation in various states this year (listed here) and the recent filibuster in the Senate of H.R.1, known as the For the People Act of 2021.
If you are looking for someone to clearly explain the real life effects of voting policy and what people mean when they talk about voter suppression, Our Time Is Now is the book for you. If you are wondering how to take action, to ensure your community is being represented, you’ll find guidance throughout the book.
Balsamo, Michael, & Cassidy, Christina A. (2021, June 25). Justice Department suing Georgia over state’s new voting law. Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/ga-state-wire-georgia-voting-rights-laws-voting-c552e88d294e5f35e2eea595177bc4b5
Bureau, U. S. C. (2021, February 24). Census Bureau Statement on Redistricting Data Timeline. The United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2021/statement-redistricting-data-timeline.html