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Voting Rights and Representation: Federal and Local Issues
April 3, 2022 @ 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Christina Rivers, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science at DePaul University will speak on the topic, Voting Rights and Representation: Federal and Local Issues. This discourse will cover current policy and ethical concerns about voting and representation at the federal and state (primarily Illinois) levels. At the federal level this review includes recent efforts to pass stronger federal voting rights legislation, renewed controversies about ballot access/integrity and continuing debates over the role of race and partisanship in the redistricting process. At the state level her talk will cover Illinois’ efforts to expand voter access and to create more transparent redistricting processes for the state and in Chicago. She will also include a consideration of the state’s path-breaking legislation to promote voting and civic engagement among citizens with a felony conviction.
Dr. Christina Rivers is the author of The Congressional Black Caucus, Minority Voting Rights, and the U.S. Supreme Court (2011). Her research and teaching focus on early black political thought and race, representation, and voting rights. More recently she has been exploring the intersections of democracy and mass incarceration, including ballot access for those in jail awaiting trial, felony disenfranchisement laws and prison-based gerrymanders. Dr. Rivers also teaches at Stateville Correctional Center and coordinates a law and policy think-tank there, which, in 2017, collaborated with local voting and civil rights organizations to write the “Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act.” Signed into law in 2019, this mandates voter and civic education as part of the exit process from the Illinois Department of Corrections. She volunteers as a poll-watcher at Cook County jail and serves on the Freedom-to-Learn campaign which seeks to create state legislation to expand college programming the state’s prisons.