DAUK Film Night: Capturing the Flag
was held on June 14, 2019 in London
The UK Premiere of Capturing the Flag: combating voter suppression in North Carolina
In collaboration with the DAUK Voter Registration Committee, Voting Rights and Democracy Group of the Policy Network and Resolutions Committee, and the DAUK Black Caucus.
Photo from Capturing the Flag website
Director: Anne De Mare
Editor: Satoko Sugiyama & Aljernon Tunsil
Original score: Christopher North
Our brief synopsis of the film, and a summary of the issues it raises.
The Film Night
About the Film
This fly-on-the wall documentary follows three friends as they travel from New York to North Carolina to help voters in November 2016 in the first presidential election since the Supreme Court dismantled the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This Act required certain states to submit changes to their voting laws to the Department of Justice for approval. Now, those protections are gone. In addition, the Republican takeover of North Carolina’s General Assembly in 2010 led to extreme partisan gerrymandering, designed to concentrate and dilute the African American vote. And in 2012, the new Republican governor in ushered in strict voter ID laws that, in the words of another court, targeted African Americans with ‘almost surgical precision.’
From being a leading state in expanding voting rights for a decade before the 2010 shift in power, North Carolina had, by 2016, become a poster child for voter suppression. The volunteers came prepared for an intense ground game that is typical local politics in voting precincts all across the country. They carefully study North Carolina election law. They arrive before dawn when the polls open, ready to help voters who are grappling with new laws, changing districts, voter purges and conflicting information. And they find that it is no easy task. We all know the outcome—the state that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 went for Donald Trump in 2016.
Capturing the Flag offers deeply personal, sometimes surprising perspectives on the 2016 election and its aftermath. We follow the volunteers through the harrowing election returns and their journey home. They search for new alliances and pathways to battle voter suppression and find inspiration in the growing movement of nonpartisan, pro-democracy organizations.
About The Film Night Speakers:
The discussion afterward featured a panel of DAUK members who are deeply engaged in promoting and expanding voting rights. Steeped in the research on the policies, laws, tactics and data about voter suppression, they also gave an update on what Democrats and others are doing to combat suppression, protect voting rights and ensure that every vote is counted – both at home and abroad.
Laura Mosedale, moderator, is the Co-Chair for Voter Registration at DAUK. A native New Yorker and former board member of the League of Women Voters in Greenwich, CT, she has been living in London since 1998 and a member of DAUK for almost that long. If you’d like to help with voter registration and other get out the vote initiatives among US citizens in the UK in 2020, send an email to [email protected] .
Maya Buchanan is a lead on the DA Global Voter Protection team, Chair of the DAUK Policy Network and Resolutions. Voting Rights and Democracy group and an Executive Committee member for both DAUK and the Oxford chapter of DAUK. Originally from San Francisco, Maya grew up in the Bay Area and Northern New Mexico. She’s lived in the UK for over 25 years and is married with a young family. Maya has built her career in design and project management and works for a political think-tank. For more information on the PNR, Voting Rights and Democracy groups, email [email protected] and include ‘Voting Rights’ in the subject.
Adrienne Johnson, a native of Washington, D.C., is Chair and Founder of DAUK’s Black Caucus. She is also a founding member of Democrats Abroad’s Global Black Caucus and sits on the Steering Committee. A primary goal of the Black Caucus (email [email protected]) is to locate, engage and mobilize DAUK members and American expats who are interested in and actively support policies that lift, protect and correct the root cause of hindrances and systemic inequities that continue to harm and negatively impact black Americans, a key voting block for the Democratic Party. Adrienne is a member of the Film Committee and has served on DAUK’s Executive Committee and is currently a Democratic Party Committee Abroad Voting Representative. She has been a UK resident for many years and lived in Berlin prior to moving to London.
Julie Shields is an attorney who has been protecting the vote since Gore v. Bush. She has worked across Virginia inside at the polls as a poll watcher, outside at the polls, and fielded calls at hotlines and the boiler room on election day. She is working with DAUK on Voter Protection issues and is also a member of the Film Committee.
FAQ’S & Issues At Stake Covered
An overview of the issues
What are the major methods used to suppress voting?
Creating obstacles to voter registration
Voter ID laws often disadvantage a wide range of voters: young, poor, women, the elderly and more. through the types of ID that required, the costs of obtaining them and the way they are managed. See this Brennan Center Report.
Laws restricting the work of organizations organizing voter registration drives
‘Caging‘: a political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undelivered, the mailing organization uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent.
Restricted early voting
The ‘gutting’ of the Voting Rights Act via the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 required states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to get certification in advance, or “pre-clearance,” for any election change they wanted to make and to demonstrate that these changes would not be discriminatory. The Court decision removed that requirement
Inadequate resourcing for the administration of elections: insufficient or unequal allocation of the number/locations of polling stations and the number of voting machines
Disinformation about voting procedures and deadlines
Read more, listen to a conversation with Jelani Cobb about how to overcome voter suppression, and Watch Stacey Abrams on Voter Suppression below.
What are ‘districts’? What is gerrymandering? How is redistricting undertaken?
Gerrymandering is essentially creating electoral districts in order to achieve a partisan advantage. Most of our federal legislators, all of our state legislators and many of our local legislators in towns and counties are elected from districts. Districts divide states and the people who live there into geographical territories for representation and therefore voting.
In most states, districts are drawn up by state legislators, with governors often holding veto power. Some states have independent commissions, while others have ‘political commissions’ .The decision about how to draw up districts is left to state legislatures or in some cases, ballot initiatives. This is why participating in state level elections is so important.
Redistricting is the way in which the districts are adjusted. The next redistricting is due in 2023 -2022 and will be based on the 2020 Census. That is why the filling out the Census is so important. In addition, re-redistricting can be mandated as a result of challenges in the courts.
The Economist found that “in the 2012 redistricting cycle, the boundaries of 48% of House districts were drawn entirely by Republican officials, compared with just 10% by Democratic ones.”
Find out more: Read All about redistricting in Professor Justin Levitt’s guide to drawing the electoral lines. A good general source that is regularly updated.
Who is impacted by voter suppression?
According to the Brennan Center and other research organizations, the largest demographics affected by these measures are: African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans. Students, young people and those in financial hardship are also highly affected as are women, the elderly and the disabled. And the implementation of policies designed to restrict voting is very partisan: it is usually Republican state governments that implement these laws and practices.
Who is promoting voter suppression?
There are several right-wing organizations, think-tanks and activist campaigns that promote tactics that result in voter suppression. The conservative The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had been one of the important drivers in drafting ‘model legislation’ that is widely adopted by Republican state legislators. It projects cover a full range of issues – for example, environmental. voting rights , and gun rights (author of the Stand your Ground legislation adopted in many states)
“Until 2011, its activities were little known outside political circles. In July 2011, The Nation published a series of articles produced in collaboration with the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that showcased some of the ALEC model bills and described ties to the Koch family, and CMD launched a website “ALEC Exposed” that documented more than 800 of ALEC’s model bills, the legislators and corporations that had helped to draft them, and the states that enacted them. The joint effort, and particularly its coverage of ALEC’s push for tough voter ID laws, prompted the advocacy group Color of Change to launch a public campaign to pressure corporations to withdraw their ALEC memberships.” It remains a significant force in developing right-wing legislation on a wide range of issues, but is now subject to much more scrutiny.
What is being done to combat voter suppression, extend and protect voting rights and ensure our votes are counted?
Democrats Abroad has a dedicated team working to protect Overseas Americans’ votes! Find out more.
The number and range of organizations devoted to protecting voting rights in the USA has expanded since 2016, the level of activism in 2018 was particularly high., and they are already preparing for the 2020 elections.
Their activities range from:
– Litigation: challenges in the courts
– Research and investigations on the impact and operation of laws and regulations and the ‘motivations’ and support behind them
– Ballot initiatives on extending voting rights
– Activism ‘on the ground’ on a range of issues: e.g. providing support for people to gain the required Voter IDs, providing transportation to the polling location, voter protection work at polling places.
Interviews with key leaders on voting rights
Including: Voter Suppression, Gerrymandering and Protecting Our Votes
Stacey Abrams has been at the forefront in working against voter suppression and ensuring that every vote is counted.
Watch her address to Democrats Abroad UK – in September 2018 in her campaign for Governor.
Her response to the State of the Union Address – January, 2019.
Let’s be clear. Voter suppression is real. From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy. While I acknowledge the results of the 2018 election here in Georgia, I did not and we cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote.”
Gerrymandering and Redistricting
David Daley is one of the foremost researchers and activists on the issue of gerrymandering. Here he discusses these issues and his upcoming film (which we hope to screen).
President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder founded the National Democratic Redistricting Committee to promote fair redistricting.
Get Out The Vote and Protect The Vote
Register to vote and request your ballot every election year!
Protecting The Votes of Americans Abroad
Find out what Democrats Abroad is doing to promote, extend and protect our votes.
Campaigns and Organizations Dedicated to Protecting and Expanding Voter Rights and Voting
There are hundreds of US campaigning organizations devoted to every aspect of promoting GOTV and protecting voting rights.
Find out More About Capturing the Flag
FAQ’S & Issues at Stake
Gerrymandering, Redistricting, Voter Suppression
Interviews on voting rights
Print or Video
View our suggested interviews of Key Leaders
Register to Vote, Keep up with Democrats Abroad, Voter Rights Campaigns and organizations
Disclaimer: The screening of this film does not constitute an endorsement or promotion of the film, nor of any views expressed therein or any association with The Film Committee, DAUK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party. Screenings are solely conceived as educational activities: offering an opportunity for members to discuss issues.
Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad – UK.