With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

NYHS Announces Annual Constitutional History Seminar: The Contested Right to Vote

Meeting Dates & Time:
Fridays, May 13 and 20, June 3 and 10, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
Instructors: Richard Briffault, Eugene D. Mazo


Seminar Description:

The right to vote is the foundation of democracy, yet the extent, meaning, and effectiveness of the vote have been contested throughout American history. Voting eligibility has expanded since the Revolution from a limited number of white men, who in most states had to be property owners or taxpayers, to include most adult citizens today. But significant obstacles to voting and to the institutions that protect the right to vote remain, serving to undermine democracy. The Constitution itself does not confer the right to vote, but, since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, more amendments have addressed voting than any other subject, and constitutional law—along with important federal statutes—has played a key role in structuring the ongoing debate over voting. In this seminar, Professors Richard Briffault and Eugene Mazo will trace the evolution of the right to vote from the founding to the present day, paying particular attention to the legal, political, and social forces that led to the expansion of the right to vote, and to the forces—both historical and contemporary—that have sought to curtail it.

Richard Briffault is the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School. His work focuses on state and local government law, the law of the political process, and government ethics.

Eugene D. Mazo is visiting professor of law at the Seton Hall University School of Law and a nationally recognized scholar of election law. Professor Mazo’s research focuses on voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting, and the regulation of democracy, both in the United States and around the world.  


The seminar will be presented in person at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, on the following dates:

  • Friday, May 13, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
  • Friday, May 20, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
  • Friday, June 3, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET
  • Friday, June 10, 2022 | 2–5 pm ET

Accepted students will receive further instructions and the classroom location within the New-York Historical Society.

Application Process:

The seminar is designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law, and related disciplines. All participants will be expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions. Although the Institute cannot offer academic credit directly for the seminar, students may be able to earn graduate credit through their home departments by completing an independent research project in conjunction with the seminar. Please consult with your advisor and/or director of graduate studies about these possibilities. 

Space is limited. To apply, please submit the following material to ich@nyhistory.org by April 6, 2022:

  • Your C.V.
  • A short statement on how this seminar will be useful to you in your research, teaching, or professional development.

Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter. For further information, please email Alexander Kassl at ich@nyhistory.org.

Additional Information:

There is no tuition or other charge for this seminar, though participants will be expected to acquire the assigned books on their own. 

Read entire article at New York Historical Society