In November 2019, the Western New England Law Review held its symposium, On Account of Sex: Women’s Suffrage and the Role of Gender in Politics Today. The symposium articles ask us to look at history to see what factors enabled path-breaking activists to secure the right to vote in a time of immense national turmoil. They also ask us to weigh how history should assess the strategic decisions that ultimately gained political rights for some women, but deliberately excluded Black women and other activists.
These historical accounts help us consider how the right to vote is faring, particularly after a series of cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court has enabled a profound movement toward disenfranchisement through invalidating key sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing requirements for state-issued voter identification that serve to prevent voting, enabling extraordinary gerrymandering, allowing for the purging of voters from the registration rolls, and making it harder for people to vote absentee even during a pandemic. They also take up issues regarding gender, race, class, status in gaining rights and political representation; how the environment surrounding voting rights has experienced and continues to experience great challenges; and how, although we can see radical threats to those rights in a profound and obvious manner in today’s politics, those threats are simply current versions of a long-standing issue in United States politics and in politics around the world.
Sudha Setty, Foreword, 42 W. NEW ENG. L. REV. 333 (2020).