Honors Theses


Nancy Martorano Miller


Political Science

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Honors Thesis


Political participation, and in particular, the power to cast a vote, is crucial to representation in a democracy. This project seeks to explore the issue of racial disenfranchisement in the United States, both historically and in the present day, as well as its implications for the political participation and representation of racial minorities in politics and government. In analyzing the broad scope of this issue, I will research both federal and state laws. Until recently, the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States coupled with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have provided important barriers to state passage and implementation of laws that suppress or disenfranchise minority voters. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) freed states to adopt potential discriminatory voting and election laws without federal review by the Justice Department. I will focus specifically on voter suppression laws, including voter identification requirements, gerrymandering, laws concerning felon voting rights, and other policies that constitute modern-day voter suppression tactics. With significant legal barriers preventing certain segments of the population (specifically, minority groups) from casting their vote, they are effectively not having their voices heard, nor are they being represented in their own government. I end by proposing a possible solution to the issue of racial disenfranchisement and its implications on the American public, but specifically for racial minorities in the United States.

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Undergraduate research