Jamila Michener

Jamila Michener is an assistant professor at Cornell University, where she studies poverty, public policy, political participation, and race. 

Recent Articles

Playing Offense on Voting Rights

Underutilized provisions of the National Voter Registration Act could help enfranchise millions of Americans.

AP Photo/Robert E. Klein
For much of this election cycle, voting rights advocates have been playing defense. Seventeen states have enacted new curbs on voting, including voter ID laws, that weren’t in place for the last presidential election. These new laws build on a rash of electoral restrictions enacted in in 22 states between 2010 and 2012, and follow on the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling to invalidate key parts of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 . All this has made defending the right to vote from further erosion a central preoccupation for advocates of democracy. But advancing voting rights is about more than just blocking new restrictions and warily protecting the franchise. It’s about expanding access to the polls. A good voting rights offense—one that equitably broadens mass participation—is especially important for voting populations of color and in poverty. Too often, states disenfranchise these voters not by actively limiting their access to the polls, but by...