The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.
After more than a century of expanding the voting rights of previously disenfranchised groups, the American electoral system today is confronted by political and legal maneuvers to curtail the hard-won rights of these same groups, ostensibly in the name of combating fraud and regulating voting, but actually to change the outcome of elections.
"Political campaigns to suppress or dilute votes corrode democracy, frustrate the popular will, and stimulate polarization."
Attacks on the integrity of the electoral system are not new. Throughout the 19th and much of the 20th century dominant political forces suppressed voting by African Americans and other minorities, women, immigrants, and young people. Manipulation of voting in the 20th century included racist suppression of African American votes, first by Democrats and later by Republicans. These practices are blatant examples of the vulnerability of the electoral process to partisan manipulation and the necessity of reform to safeguard voting rights, especially among these vulnerable groups.
In his timely addition to the Reimagining Rights and Responsibilites in the U.S. paper series, authors John Shattuck, Mathias Risse, and team outline the expansion of the vote through history, the disproportionate impact of voter suppression, and propose a set of policy recommendations accordingly.
See all the issues of the Reimagining Rights and Responsibilities paper series here.
The Carr Center is pleased to launch its 2019-2020 Annual Report. Take a look at our work, and learn how to get involved.
We hope that you remain engaged with our work in the coming months. After all, human rights are not just about institutions, laws, and policies. They are about people coming together, hoping to make the world and their communities a better place—more just, more equitable, and more peaceful.
When the Department of Homeland Security released its Homeland Threat Assessment earlier this month, it emphasized that self-proclaimed white supremacist groups are the most dangerous threat to U.S. security. But the report misleadingly added that there had been “over 100 days of violence and destruction in our cities,” referring to the anti-racism uprisings of this past summer.
In fact, the Black Lives Matter uprisings were remarkably nonviolent. When there was violence, very often police or counterprotesters were reportedly directing it at the protesters.
“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”
- Mathias Risse