Democracy and debate

Free speech. The exchange of ideas. Fair and free elections. Democratic institutions. These are fundamental aspects of our democracy, and they require work, reform, and commitment to uphold them.  Our community is engaged deeply in the issues of the day, and ready to help others speak out, take action, and vote. 

Passage of the 19th amendment a century ago was a hard-won victory for women’s right to vote, and yet it was just one of many movements—before and after—to expand voting rights. In 1866, 53 years before the amendment’s passage, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was the only Black woman to address the National Woman’s Rights Convention in New York. She said: “Justice is not fulfilled so long as woman is unequal before the law. We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.”

Yet she and other African Americans were unable to exercise this right until the Voting Rights Act passed a century later. The most vulnerable among us still face many barriers at the ballot box.

In conjunction with a major effort across the University of Michigan, we offer courses, conversations across difference, and initiatives that explore the topics of debate, civic engagement, voting rights, and democracy with a special theme semester. 

Following a tumultuous election year, highlighted by a pandemic and attacks on our democracy, the Ford School continues to offer courses, initiate conversations across difference, and explore topics of debate, civic engagement, voting rights, and the state of our democracy.

The right to vote is at the very foundation of our American system and nothing must interfere with this very precious right.”

President Gerald R. Ford, for whom our school is named, extended the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 1975
Engaging community

Barriers at the ballot box

Edie Goldenberg on U-M voting initiatives.
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Research Insights

2020 Census undercounted Detroit population

Poverty Solutions research found an 8% undercount in some neighborhoods, costing the city millions in federal aid.
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Student experience

Ali's course examines cybersecurity and elections

Ford School students join peers from the College of Engineering in a hybrid course that looks at technical aspects of cybersecurity and policy actions to mitigate the challenges. Election security is a major focus.
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Student experience

U-M students break voting records in 2020

With a major GOTV effort from students and the university, voter turnout among U-M college students jumped to 78% in the 2020 election.
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Research insights

Federally-funded science boards seen through political lens

Kaitlin Raimi’s research shows the legitimacy of scientists are judged based on political persuasion and highlights the risk of politicizing scientific advice.
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Research insights

Rewriting boundaries to reflect diversity

With a team of students, John Chamberlin helped the State of Michigan define ‘communities of interest’ to inform legislative redistricting.
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Research insights

Local leaders believe Michigan is moving in the wrong direction

According to CLOSUP's MPPS survey, 67% of local government officials say Michigan has gotten off on the wrong track—the highest level of pessimism reported since tracking began in 2011.
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Faculty expert

Hall delivers Barbara Sinclair Lecture on insidious influence of lobbyists

In accepting his APSA career award, Hall's lecture speaks to the insidious nature of political money and special interest lobbying.
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Alumni impact

Sharon Dolente (MPP/JD ‘04) expands ballot access in Michigan

Dolente is a senior advisor for Promote the Vote and was recognized with a 2021 Community Heroes Award for her work to revolutionize Michigan’s voting laws and make it easier to vote.
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Faculty expert

Hanson provides historical perspective on DC insurrection

Jon Hanson traces the January 6th violence to President Trump's 2016 rhetoric.
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Aug 2 2022
Nov 8 2022

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