UPDATED: 11 a.m., Oct. 30 -- This event WILL be held as scheduled, despite the many cancellations around town due to damage and outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.
The following information was provided on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Lexington.
Since the election of 2010, a number of states have passed laws that have imposed new voter ID requirements and restricted access to the polls. These laws reverse a trend, begun with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to make voting more accessible to all Americans.
Opponents of these laws worry that they will have a disproportionate effect on the ability of racial minority voters, as well as the less affluent and students, to vote in 2012. Many worry (or hope) that these laws will have an influence on who wins the presidency in November.
This talk, to be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 at the Lexington Depot, discusses the rise of these laws, which are intended to tighten-up access to the polls, and the larger political context that has led to their passage. Despite the clearly partisan politics of these laws, Professor Stewart will discuss why they are unlikely to have much of an influence on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. This is not to say that problems with election administration more generally couldn't lead to a repeat of the 2000 fiasco. Many of the "battleground states" have features of their voting systems that could lead to controversy, conflict, and chaos, should the results of the election rest on an election dispute in one of these states.
About the Speaker: Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT, where he has taught since 1985. His research and teaching areas include congressional politics, elections, and American political development. His current research about Congress touches on the historical development of committees, party leadership, and Senate elections. Since 2001, Professor Stewart has been a member of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, a leading research effort that applies scientific analysis to questions about election technology, election administration, and election reform. He is currently the MIT director of the project. Professor Stewart is an established leader in the analysis of the performance of election systems and the quantitative assessment of election performance.