Voting may be the cornerstone of our democracy, but the reality of how voting works in America — and who gets to do it — is not as fair or clear-cut as we like to tell ourselves. In this new limited series, award-winning journalist Katie Couric explores America’s voting record — past, present, and future — with the help of activists, historians, politicians and luminaries. Through personal stories and engaging interviews, we’ll talk about the ways voters have been kept out of the system and spotlight those fighting — on the ground and in the courts — to ensure everyone can participate in our democracy.
Episode 10: ‘If we raise our expectations we would have a better system’
This series began in the past, to better understand the origin and history of our ongoing fight for voting rights. And as Turnout comes to a close, we consider its future. Where do we go from here? What lessons can we take with us, and what impact might this election have on our ongoing push for a more inclusive democracy and a more perfect union. In this last episode of Turnout with Katie Couric, we hear from some of our previous guests — including Wendy Weiser, Gilda Daniels, and Tyler Okeke — about the biggest takeaways from the 2020 election and their impact on our democracy. But first, an interview with someone whose job it is to lay a civics foundation for the next generation of voters. Greg Cruey is a middle school social studies teacher in War, West Virginia — a one-time coal mining center that is now one of the poorest areas in the country. Because Mr. Cruey explains our voting system, our elections, and our democracy to his 6th, 7th, and 8th graders each year, we wanted to hear how he might put our 2020 experience into context.
Read more about the people and organizations mentioned in this episode:
What it’s like to teach children about the election, and its results, in deep-red Trump country, by Hanna Natanson (Washington Post)
Wendy Weiser is the Vice President for Democracy at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School
Gilda Daniels is an associate professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, as well as litigation director at Advancement Project national office and author of ‘Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in America.’
Tyler Okeke is a Vote at 16 Youth Organizer with Power California and a second-year student at the University of Chicago.
Episode 9: ‘Giving makes me feel like I’m living’
You’ve no doubt heard that the 2020 election welcomed historic turnout. But what do those high numbers of voters mean for our democracy, for future elections, and for the warring political parties as they conduct their post-mortems? On this episode of Turnout with Katie Couric, we hear from a data journalist who is starting to comb through the numbers. Neal Rothschild, director of audience and political data reporter for Axios, shares the four big takeaways that help explain the 2020 election. Then, Katie talks with her friend, the best-selling author Mitch Albom about the state of our divisiveness, the media’s problem, how we can find ways to reconnect and start to move forward as a country together.
More about the episodes and guests featured in this episode:
Four demographic trends that explain Biden’s victory (Axios)
Read more from Neal Rothschild or find him on Twitter
Mitch Albom: The election will be meaningless if we don’t change our ways (Detroit Free Press)
Find more about Mitch Albom’s books at his website.
Episode 8: Georgia’s Secretary of State on why ‘integrity still matters’
All eyes are on Georgia this week as it wraps up its manual recount of nearly 5 million ballots. On Friday, November 13, when the recount began, several news outlets had declared Joe Biden the state’s winner. If that still holds when the recount is complete, Biden will be the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992. If that weren’t enough, control of the Senate now hinges on two critical Georgia runoff elections, which will happen in early January 2021. At the center of this national political storm is Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. On this episode of Turnout with Katie Couric, an interview with the secretary, who gives us a peek behind the recount curtain, and talks about the high-pressure stakes of being the Republican in charge of President Trump’s recount: tweets, calls for resignation, and, yes, even death threats. For Brad Raffensperger, it’s all in a day’s work.
Episode 7: 'Stepping out of your partisan self'
On this episode of Turnout with Katie Couric, Katie shares her hopes and the need for open-mindedness as the country welcomes in the next administration. Then, we check in with some of our previous guests to get a temperature check on the country’s democracy now that the 2020 pandemic election is (almost) behind us. Jesse Littlewood from Common Cause shares his takeaways from the election, what the big turnout means for future races, and the new potential obstacles to voter access his organization is already watching and preparing to fight down the road. Finally, we check in with Annette Scott, a volunteer from the League of Women Voters, who is also a dedicated poll worker, on how Election Day went for her in New Jersey.
More about the topics and guests featured in this episode:
Read: I Gave Donald Trump a Chance After He Was Elected. The President’s Supporters Should Do the Same for Joe Biden Now (TIME)
Jesse Littlewood is the vice president for campaigns at Common Cause, a democracy and voting rights watchdog group.
Annette Scott, a volunteer with The League of Women Voters, working primarily with the New Jersey Reentry Corporation leading voter registration education.
Episode 6: ‘There’s going to be some soul searching in both parties’
We are finally on the other side of the 2020 presidential election and it was — as promised — unprecedented. And a big part of that is because of you! Voters from all over the country came out (and mailed in ballots) in record numbers. 2020 is projected to have the highest turnout rate of eligible voters in more than a century. In this episode of Turnout with Katie Couric, we’ll hear some of your voting stories, which capture a moment in history that will be analyzed for years to come. Then, Katie shares her conversation with political consultant Brian Goldsmith, which took place on Instagram Live starting at 6 pm EST on Nov. 6. And while the news over the next few days may change in big and small ways, Brain and Katie help put this week and the weight of what happened into context.
Bonus: David Brooks on why ‘restoring trust in each other is the elemental task'
It's election week! And in this special bonus issue of Turnout, Katie Couric talks with New York Times columnist David Brooks about the moment when we fell through the floor of decency and what America has lost these last four years. David also shares what's at stake on Nov. 3, why this is another moment of moral convulsion for the country and how we can mend our extreme political divides.
Read more about this episode:
Op-Ed: Trump's presidency Smashed the 'Decency Floor'
The New York Times' opinion collection, ‘What Have We Lost'
Weave, the Social Fabric Project from the Aspen Institute
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So, when you go after Facebook and after the commercial break you are going to nail them, you might not want to have Facebook as your commercial. But what do I know. Probably on purpose.
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