|MIT Department: Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Charles Stewart III
Undergraduate Institution: Spelman College
My name is Christina James and I am a rising senior at Spelman College majoring in Political Science and Theatre & Performance. Growing up in Miami, Florida, I had the privilege of experiencing the transformative and healing effects of theatre, and much of my identity and perspective are centered around my journey as an actor and an artist. My love for the performing arts and my passion for social justice and advocacy have been equally as influential in informing my path and aspirations. Upon graduating from Spelman College, I plan to pursue a J.D. with the goal of practicing law in a civil rights and victims’ advocacy capacity. Additionally, I will pursue a Ph.D. in Political Science so that I may return to my beloved Spelman as a professor and support the next generation of dynamic Spelman women. Finally, I will always actively seek out ways to foster greater theatre and performing arts community programming accessibility. I believe that the catharsis and magic of theatre can and should be used to alleviate many of our collective traumas and communal wounds. My research interests are centered around elections, antiracism, comparative politics, justice, and access. In my free time, I enjoy performing in and attending shows, coaching speech and debate, knitting, and spending time with my dogs.
State Legislatures’ Efforts to Restrict and Expand Voting Access
Christina James1 and Charles Stewart III2
1Department of Political Science, Spelman College
2Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Voting gives constituents the opportunity to be involved in government and advocate their interests. Upholding the constitutionality and equity of elections is essential to fostering healthy democracy and elections. This study examines recent efforts by state legislatures to expand and restrict voting access. We measure the degree to which state legislatures have furthered legislation to expand or restrict voting access in 2021. This measure combines the number of restrictive/expansive provisions and how far along the legislative process these provisions advanced. Our measures of expansion and restrictiveness are correlated with measures of state government partisan control and partisan competition in the state. We find that restricting voting access is predicted by state competitiveness and partisan control of the state government. Expanding access is predicted by partisan control alone. The results of this project provide insight into legislative trends and can help to foster awareness of state election health and voting access. Future research may seek to compare the results aggregated within the United States with the results in other nations.