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July 26th Boston Event Press Release

For Immediate Release   
July 23, 2004   

Contact Rob Richie (301) 270-4616, [email protected]
Boston Event on July 26 Highlights Right-to-Vote Amendment 

Speakers to include Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Lani Guinier, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Corrine Brown, Kim Gandy, Robert Kuttner, Hendrik Hertzberg, Benjamin Barber, Billie Jean Young

On July 26, 2004, the first day of the Democratic Convention, leading civil rights leaders and electoral reformers will gather in downtown Boston at Suffolk University to focus attention on the case for an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. Sponsored by the Center for Voting and Democracy, MassVOTE and the Suffolk College of Arts and Sciences, the forum features such speakers as Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Dennis Kucinich, Rev. Jesse Jackson, law professors Lani Guinier and Jamin Raskin, National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy, scholars Alex Keyssar and Benjamin Barber and journalists Robert Kuttner and Hendrik Hertzberg.

The invitation-only event promises to draw a full house of convention delegates, journalists, students and members of organizations that have embraced Congressman Jackson's call for a right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. Congressman Jackson's proposed amendment, H. J. Resolution 28, has drawn the sponsorship of nearly the entire Congressional Black Caucus and additional congressional leaders such as Patrick Kennedy and Luis Guttierez.

The reality that Americans have no affirmative right to vote in the Constitution was brought home when the Supreme Court majority in Bush v. Gore declared that the Florida legislature had the right to disregard the popular vote and appoint electors, but the problem runs more deeply. The lack of a federal right to vote explains how so many states can continue to have voting equipment and voter registration problems like those we saw in Florida in 2000, how states and counties risk new controversy with the implementation of questionable touch screen voting equipment developed by private companies and how states like Florida can ban hundreds of thousands of ex-felons from the polls for life. For more information, see

The event is possible, in part, through the support of Suffolk University. Details about the schedule are listed below. Because seating at the theatre is limited, the event is by invitation-only. RSVP by July 23 by contacting Stephanie Collier at the Center for Voting and Democracy at (301) 270-4616 or [email protected] For more general information, contact the Center's executive director Robert Richie at (301) 270-4616 or [email protected]

A National Campaign for Democracy
The Case for a Right-to-Vote Constitutional Amendment

July 26, 1:30 pm to 5 pm
C. Walsh Theatre at Suffolk University

* Welcome from the Center for Voting and Democracy's Rob Richie and Suffolk University's John Berg.  

*Opening speech by Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., to be introduced by National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy (1:30 pm - 2:10 pm)

* First session: "From Fannie Lou Hamer to Florida: The Continuing Struggle for Democracy in America":  (2:10 pm - 3 pm).  This panel will feature substantial audience participation as speakers focus on voting rights struggles over the course of American history. It will include Billie Jean Young' dramatization of Fannie Lou Hamer's efforts to gain representation for African Americans from Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic convention and Professor Alex Keyssar of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, John Bonifaz of the National Voting Rights Institute, journalist Greg Palast and Rev. Carrie Bolton of the Fannie Lou Hamer Project. 

* Second session: "Expanding the Electorate / Enhancing the Vote" (3:10 pm - 4 pm).  This session will focus on strategies to expand the electorate by boosting participation under current rules, by adopting reforms such as election day registration, instant runoff voting and full representation and by increasing those with the right to vote through felony voting rights, immigrant voting, lowering the voting age, federal voting rights for residents of the Territories and D.C. Statehood..
Washington College of Law's Jamin Raskin will introduce and moderate a panel with the Right to Vote Campaign's Robin Templeton,  Harvard law professor Lani Guinier, New Yorker writer Hendrik Hertzberg, Ilir Zherka of DC Vote and Juan Martinez from MassVOTE.

* Third session: "Building a Movement for A Democratic Constitution" (4 pm - 4:40 pm).  This session will feature speeches in support of a right-to-vote amendment and how it supports the demand for better securing, enhancing and exercising the right to vote. Confirmed speakers include Congressman Dennis Kucinich, The American Prospect's Robert Kuttner, Congresswoman Corrine Brown and University of Maryland political scientist Ben Barber. Governor Howard Dean may speak as well.

* Closing speech by Rev. Jesse Jackson (4:40 pm - 5 pm)

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Copyright 2004     The Center for Voting and Democracy
6930 Carroll Ave. Suite 610, Takoma Park, MD 20912
(301) 270-4616        [email protected]