Obama Transition Team Member To Speak at Alma
Voters don’t choose politicians; politicians choose voters by
manipulating election laws, argues Spencer Overton, an author and
election law scholar who will speak at Alma College.
Overton’s presentation at Alma will take place at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2 in the Remick Heritage Center. Admission is free and open to the public. No ticket is required.
Originally scheduled to speak Jan 19 as the keynote speaker for Martin Luther King Jr. Week, Overton’s talk at Alma College was postponed due to his appointment to the Barack Obama Presidential Transition Team for the inauguration and rescheduled for Feb. 2.
very excited to have Spencer Overton come to campus on the heels of the
Inauguration,” says Jamie Smith, assistant professor of history. “Not
only did Overton contribute to Obama's Transition Team, his message
mirrors the president's.”
In his most recent book, Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression, Overton discusses the way politicians manipulate election laws to their advantage while lessening the value of the average American vote.
“Overton's message in Stealing Democracy is surprisingly one of hope,” says Smith. “He proposes a road map for us to improve our electoral system and therefore strengthen our democracy. We all know that we have the right to vote; we hear that one vote can make a difference. What we don't all understand is how strategies like re-drawing district lines, limiting the number of booths in densely populated areas, and requiring specific identity cards allow certain politicians to maintain a choke hold on power.
“Like our new president, Overton encourages action in communities,” says Smith. “We do have the power to fight against gerrymandering. The question that Overton cannot answer for us is will we invest in ourselves, in each other, in our communities and do it. A government of the people and by the people requires significant effort for the people.”
Overton’s achievements have earned him multiple awards, including the Emerging Scholars Award in 2006 from Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine. In 2003 he was recognized in Black Enterprise Magazine as one of nine who “may conceivably end up leading a major Black empowerment organization.”
Born and raised in Detroit, Overton has ties to Michigan as a judicial clerk for the honorable Damon J. Keith in the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Detroit. He also practiced law in the greater Detroit area.
He served as a commissioner on the Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform as well as the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling. He currently serves on the boards of Common Cause, Demos and the American Constitution Society. In addition, he is a Senior Fellow of the Jamestown Project, a nonpartisan organization at Yale dedicated to articulating new ideas for enriching American democracy.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Overton currently is a member of the George Washington University Law School faculty. He previously taught at the University of California, Davis, School of Law.
Posted: Thu, January 22nd, 2009 at 8:41AM