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University of Iowa News Release

 

Dec. 29, 2006

Law School Hosts Lecture By Voting Rights Activist Overton

Voting rights activist and George Washington University law professor Spencer Overton will discuss his new book, "Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression" at the University of Iowa College of Law on Friday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. in the Levitt Auditorium of the Boyd Law Building.

Admission is free and open to the public. Overton's appearance is part of the University of Iowa's Human Rights Week.

Overton's research specialty is voting rights, and he served as a commissioner on the Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform. In his book, published earlier this year by W.W. Norton, Overton criticizes the least-inspected area of our democracy: partisan control of the ballot box. While politicians describe a "free" American people who govern themselves by selecting their representatives, in reality, he asserts, politicians from both parties maintain control by selecting specific voters. Incumbent politicians control thousands of election practices and bureaucratic hurdles that determine who votes and how their votes are counted, including the location of election-district boundaries, the number of booths at urban polling places, and English-only ballots.

In his book, Overton uses real-life stories to show how these seemingly insignificant practices channel political power and determine policies on war, schools, clean air, and other issues that shape our lives. He exposes the pressure points in this system and provides strategies toward restoring self-government, including removing redistricting power from self-interested partisans and renewing parts of the Voting Rights Act that expire in 2007.

More information on the University of Iowa's Human Rights Week can be found on the Web at http://www.uiowa.edu/%7Emlk/schedule.html.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.