Statement in Support of the Freedom to Vote Act

Statement
Nov. 21, 2021

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy writing in support of the Freedom to Vote Act, the most important piece of legislation to defend and strengthen American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This bill would protect our elections from interference, partisan gerrymandering, dark money, and voter suppression. We urge all members of Congress to pass the bill, if necessary by suspending the Senate filibuster rule and using a simple majority vote.

This is no ordinary moment in the course of our democracy. It is a moment of great peril and risk.

Though disputes over the legitimacy of America’s elections have been growing for two decades, they have taken a catastrophic turn since the 2020 election. The “Big Lie” of a stolen election is now widely accepted among Republican voters, and support for it has become a litmus test for Republicans running for public office. Republican state legislatures in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and across the country have enacted partisan laws intended to make it harder for Democrats to win elections. Most alarmingly, these laws have forged legal pathways for partisan politicians to overturn state election results if they are dissatisfied with the outcome.

The partisan politicization of what has long been trustworthy, non-partisan administration of elections represents a clear and present threat to the future of electoral democracy in the United States. The history of other crisis-ridden democracies tells us this threat cannot be wished away. It must be promptly and forthrightly confronted. Failure to pass the Freedom to Vote Act would heighten post-election disputes, weaken government legitimacy, and damage America’s international reputation as a beacon of democracy in the world.

Each branch of government has a role to play in protecting free and fair elections, but Congress’s responsibility looms largest. After the Civil War, when the path of American democracy was highly uncertain, Congress built the foundations of our modern democracy by passing two constitutional amendments and five pieces of legislation to protect the right of African Americans to vote. All were passed on party-line votes. But in 1890, the Senate failed to break a filibuster on a sixth piece of legislation: the Federal Elections Bill (also known as the Lodge Bill), which would have pushed back against voting rights violations in the South.

The upshot of that critical vote was that southern states, in the absence of any federal supervision, were allowed to pursue the wholesale disenfranchisement of African Americans for the next 75 years. By a tiny margin in one branch of Congress, American democracy took a giant leap backwards.

Protecting future elections from subversion, providing equal opportunities for all citizens to participate, drawing fair district boundaries, strengthening transparency over money in politics, and facilitating impartial electoral administration should not be partisan matters. Unfortunately, however, across state legislatures, Republicans have challenged the legitimacy of the 2020 U.S. presidential election and altered election rules on party-line votes, with a clear intent to entrench minority rule.

If Congress fails to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, American democracy will be at critical risk. Not only could this failure undermine the minimum condition for electoral democracy—free and fair elections—but it would in turn likely result in an extended period of minority rule, which a majority of the country would reject as undemocratic and illegitimate. This would have grave consequences not only for our democracy, but for political order, economic prosperity, and the national security of the United States as well.

Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act. But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching. To lose our democracy but preserve the filibuster in its current form—in which a minority can block popular legislation without even having to hold the floor—would be a short-sighted mistake of historic proportions. The remarkable history of the American system of government is replete with critical, generational moments in which liberal democracy itself was under threat, and Congress asserted its central leadership role in proving that a system of free and fair elections can work.

We urge the Senate to suspend the filibuster rule for this measure and pass the Freedom to Vote Act. This would uphold the Senate's noblest tradition of preserving and strengthening American democracy.

This list was last updated on 11/24/21 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

John H. Aldrich
Professor of Political Science
Duke University

Barry Ames
Professor of Comparative Politics emeritus
University of Pittsburgh

Ellen Andersen
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Elisabeth Anker
Associate Professor of American Studies and Political Science
The George Washington University

Deborah Avant
Distinguished University Professor, International Studies
University of Denver

Naazneen Barma
Associate Professor of International Studies
University of Denver

Frank R. Baumgartner
Professor of Political Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Karen Beckwith
Professor of Political Science
Case Western Reserve University

Christopher Beem
Associate Research Professor
Penn State University

Cristina Beltrán
Associate Professor in the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis
New York University

Jonathan Bendor
Professor of Political Economy
Stanford University

Sheri Berman
Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Steffen Blings
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Utah State University

Adam Bonica
Associate Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Henry E. Brady
Professor of Political Science and Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

Nadia E. Brown
Professor of Government and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies
Georgetown University

Eileen Burgin
Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Jennifer Bussell
Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

John M. Carey
Professor of Government
Dartmouth College

Ivy A.M. Cargile
Associate Professor of Political Science
California State University, Bakersfield

Ryan E. Carlin
Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University

Michael Chwe
Professor and Chair, Political Science
University of California, Los Angeles

Alexandra Cirone
Assistant Professor of Government
Cornell University

David B. Cohen
Professor of Political Science
The University of Akron

Joshua Cohen
Distinguished Senior Fellow
University of California, Berkeley

Mark Copelovitch
Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Michael Coppedge
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Katherine J. Cramer
Professor of Political Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ingrid Creppell
Associate Professor of Political Science & International Affairs
George Washington University

Melody Crowder-Meyer
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Davidson College

Maurice T. Cunningham
Associate Professor of Political Science (retired)
University of Massachusetts at Boston

Matthew Dallek
Professor of Political Management
George Washington University

Erica De Bruin
Associate Professor of Government
Hamilton College

Shirin Deylami
Professor of Political Science
Western Washington University

Larry Diamond
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute
Stanford University

Kathleen Dolan
Professor of Political Science
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Lee Drutman
Senior Fellow
New America

Brent Durbin
Associate Professor of Government
Smith College

Chris Edelson
Assistant Professor of Government
American University

David Faris
Associate Professor of Political Science
Roosevelt University

Henry Farrell
Professor of International Affairs
Johns Hopkins University

Christopher M. Federico
Professor of Political Science and Psychology
University of Minnesota

Richard C. Fording
Professor, Political Science
University of Alabama

William W. Franko
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Amy Fried
Professor of Political Science
University of Maine

Elliott Fullmer
Associate Professor, Political Science
Randolph-Macon College

Laura Gamboa
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Utah

Michael A. Genovese
President, Global Policy Institute
Loyola Marymount University

Martin Gilens
Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Social Welfare
University of California, Los Angeles

Simon Gilhooley
Assistant Professor of Political Studies
Bard College

Benjamin Goldfrank
Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations
Seton Hall University

James Goldgeier
Professor of International Relations
American University

Sara Wallace Goodman
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of California, Irvine

Kristin A. Goss
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Duke University

Jessica Gottlieb
Associate Professor, Public Affairs
University of Houston

Virginia Gray
Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Emerita
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Jill Greenlee
Associate Professor of Politics
Brandeis University

Jacob M. Grumbach
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Washington

Anna Grzymala-Busse
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Deborah Lynn Guber
Associate Professor of Political Science
The University of Vermont

Ingrid Haas
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Jacob S. Hacker
Stanley Resor Professor of Political Science
Yale University

Jonathan Hartlyn
Professor of Political Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thomas J. Hayes
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Connecticut

Allen Hicken
Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Charlotte Hill
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of California, Berkeley

Jennifer Hochschild
Professor of Government and of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Lisa M. Holmes
Associate Professor of Political Science
The University of Vermont

Jeffrey C. Isaac
Professor of Political Science
Indiana University, Bloomington

Gary C. Jacobson
Distinguished Professor of Political Science Emeritus
University of California, San Diego

Ashley Jardina
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Duke University

Hakeem Jefferson
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Shannon Jenkins
Professor of Political Science
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Bruce W. Jentleson
Professor of Public Policy
Duke University

Adrienne Jones
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Morehouse College

Nathan P. Kalmoe
Associate Professor of Political Communication
Louisiana State University

Roger Karapin
Professor of Political Science
Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

Nancy Kassop
Professor of Political Science and International Relations
State University of New York at New Paltz

Michael Kazin
Professor of History
Georgetown University

Margaret Keck
Professor Emeritus, Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Thomas M. Keck
Professor of Political Science
Syracuse University

Alex Keena
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Virginia Commonwealth University

Nathan J. Kelly
Professor of Political Science
University of Tennessee

Alexander Keyssar
Professor of History and Social Policy
Kennedy School, Harvard University

Helen M. Kinsella
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

James T. Kloppenberg
Research Professor of American History
Harvard University

Eric Kramon
Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
George Washington University

Ronald Krebs
Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Daniel Kryder
Associate Professor of Politics
Brandeis University

Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Didi Kuo
Senior Research Scholar
Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University

Matthew Lacombe
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Timothy LaPira
Professor of Political Science
James Madison University

Bruce Larson
Professor of Political Science
Gettysburg College

Michael Latner
Senior Fellow
Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists

Anna O. Law
Associate Professor of Political Science
Brooklyn College

Jeffrey Lazarus
Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University

Kathryn Lee
Professor of Political Science
Whitworth University

Yphtach Lelkes
Associate Professor, Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

Meghan Leonard
Associate Professor of Political Science
Illinois State University

Margaret Levi
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Daniel J. Levine
Associate Professor of Political Science and Religious Studies
University of Alabama

Peter Levine
Professor of Political Science
Tufts University

Steven Levitsky
Professor of Government
Harvard University

Robert C. Lieberman
Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Paul C. Light
Professor of Public Service
New York University

Keena Lipsitz
Associate Professor of Political Science
Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

Timothy Longman
Professor of Political Science and International Relations
Boston University

Noam Lupu
Associate Professor of Political Science
Vanderbilt University

Scott Mainwaring
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Michael J. Malbin
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus
University at Albany, SUNY

Thomas E. Mann
Senior Fellow
Brookings Institution

Renee Marlin-Bennett
Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Lilliana Mason
Associate Professor of Political Science
SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University

Frederick “Fritz” Mayer
Dean and Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies
University of Denver

Erin Mayo-Adam
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Hunter College, CUNY

E. Fletcher McClellan
Professor of Political Science
Elizabethtown College

Jennifer McCoy
Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University

Jason A. McDaniel
Associate Professor of Political Science
San Francisco State University

Jennifer Merolla
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Riverside

Suzanne Mettler
Chair of American Institutions
Cornell University

John M. Meyer
Professor of Politics
Humboldt State University

Robert Mickey
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Sidney M. Milkis
Professor of Politics
University of Virginia

Terry M. Moe
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Jana Morgan
Professor of Political Science
University of Tennessee

Russell Muirhead
Department of Government
Dartmouth College

Diana C. Mutz
Professor of Political Science and Communication
University of Pennsylvania

Samuel Nelson
Associate Professor and Chair, Political Science
University of Toledo

Lina Newton
Professor of Political Science
Hunter College, CUNY

William G. Nomikos
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Washington University in St. Louis

Pippa Norris
Professor of Political Science
Harvard University

Anne Norton
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Julie Novkov
Interim Dean, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy
University at Albany, SUNY

Tatishe Nteta
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Brendan Nyhan
Professor of Government
Dartmouth College

Angela X. Ocampo
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Stan Oklobdzija
Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy
University of California, Riverside

Norman Ornstein
Emeritus Scholar
American Enterprise Institute

Benjamin I. Page
Professor of Decision Making
Northwestern University

Joseph M. Parent
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Josh Pasek
Associate Professor of Communication & Media and Political Science
University of Michigan

Periloux C. Peay
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University

Thomas Pepinsky
Professor of Government and Public Policy
Cornell University

Anibal Perez-Linan
Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs
University of Notre Dame

David A.M. Peterson
Professor of Political Science
Iowa State University

Dirk Philipsen
Professor of Economic History
Duke University

Paul Pierson
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Jack Rakove
Professor of History and Political Science
Stanford University

Miles Rapoport
Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy
Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School

Nils Ringe
Professor of Political Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kenneth M. Roberts
Professor of Government
Cornell University

Deondra Rose
Associate Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and History
Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy

Nancy Rosenblum
Professor of Government emerita
Harvard University

Steven Rosenzweig
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Boston University

Stella M. Rouse
Professor and Director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement
University of Maryland

Larry J. Sabato
Director
University of Virginia Center for Politics

Virginia Sapiro
Professor Emerita of Political Science
Boston University & University of Wisconsin - Madison

David H. Schanzer
Professor of the Practice of Public Policy
Duke University

Ethan Scheiner
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Davis

Kim Lane Scheppele
Professor of Sociology and International Affairs
Princeton University

Eric Schickler
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Daniel Schlozman
Associate Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Vivien Schmidt
Professor of International Relations and Political Science
Boston University

Cathy Lisa Schneider
Professor, School of International Service
American University

Sanford F. Schram
Professor, Political Science
Hunter College, CUNY

Charles R. Shipan
Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

George Shulman
Professor, The Gallatin school
New York University

Gisela Sin
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Dan Slater
Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Anne-Marie Slaughter
Professor Emérita of Politics and International Affairs
Princeton University

Charles Anthony Smith
Professor of Political Science and Law
University of California, Irvine

Rogers M. Smith
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Erin A. Snider
Assistant Professor of International Affairs
Texas A&M University

Joe Soss
Cowles Professor for the Study of Public Service
University of Minnesota

Leonard Steinhorn
Professor of Communication and Affiliate Professor of History
American University

Susan Stokes
Professor of Political Science
University of Chicago

Milan Svolik
Professor of Political Science
Yale University

Jennie Sweet-Cushman
Associate Professor of Political Science
Chatham University

Jordan Tama
Associate Professor of International Relations
American University

Bob Pepperman Taylor
Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Alexander G. Theodoridis
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Chloe Thurston
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Northwestern University

Alejandro Trelles
Assistant Professor of Politics
Brandeis University

Laurence H. Tribe
University Professor of Constitutional Law, Emeritus
Harvard University

Jack Turner
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Washington

Jim Twombly
Professor of Political Science
Elmira College

Rachel VanSickle-Ward
Professor of Political Studies
Pitzer College

Jennifer Nicoll Victor
Associate Professor of Political Science
George Mason University

Melissa Willard-Foster
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Robb Willer
Professor of Sociology and Psychology
Stanford University

Graham Wilson
Professor of Political Science
Boston University

Amanda Wintersieck
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Virginia Commonwealth University

Christina Wolbrecht
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Daniel Ziblatt
Professor of Government
Harvard University