Since Danielle Lang joined Campaign Legal Center in 2015, she’s had her work cut out for her.
As senior director of voting rights, she’s led litigation against Texas’ racially discriminatory voter ID law, Florida’s modern-day poll tax for rights restoration, Arizona’s burdensome registration requirements, North Dakota’s voter ID law targeting Native communities, and numerous successful challenges to signature match policies for absentee ballots.
At 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy, as part of the African American Heritage House’s Chautauqua Speaker Series, Lang will discuss her work leading CLC’s voting rights team as they safeguard the freedom to vote.
At CLC, she litigates in state and federal courts from trial to the Supreme Court, and advocates for equitable and meaningful voter access at all levels of government. She’s been a civil rights litigator her entire career — she’s a 2012 graduate of Yale Law School — and has been a Skadden Fellow in the Employment Rights Project of Bet Tzedek Legal Services in Los Angeles, where she represented low-wage immigrant workers in wage and hour, discrimination, and human trafficking matters. From 2012 to 2013, she clerked for Judge Richard A. Paez on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Among CLC’s many initiatives is the “Democracy Decoded” podcast, which debuted its second season — focused on the freedom to vote — last fall. For that podcast, Lang outlined how the history of American self-governance has been intertwined with the struggle — generation to generation — to expand the freedom to vote.
The freedom to vote, first granted just to white, property-owning males, now extends to all eligible citizens. But it was a long, uneven road, Lang wrote in November 2022, and challenges persist. Even after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the struggle for equal access to the ballot continues for many — including Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, voters with disabilities and citizens with past convictions, she wrote.
“At Campaign Legal Center, we recognize that preserving the rights so many fought for so long to achieve requires constant vigilance,” she wrote. “Our mission is to ensure that every citizen can vote without barriers, no matter their circumstance. To make every vote count, our elections must be secure and accessible, so everyone’s voice is heard.”
The 2022 elections threw the challenges voters face into stark light. Lang listed them: Fewer opportunities to vote by mail or vote early in some states; outdated and restrictive voter registration policies; and discriminatory voter ID laws, to name a few.
Any one of those roadblocks can lead to not just frustration, but doubt about the inclusiveness of American democracy.
“Every vote should count, and every voice must be heard. Systemic barriers that keep voters from the ballot box must be opposed, and efforts to expand the freedom to vote and make voting more accessible must be encouraged,” Lang wrote.
At CLC, Lang and her colleagues use litigation, policy analysis, state-based advocacy and public education efforts — like the podcast Lang wrote to introduce — to protect the freedom to vote and build confidence in our election system.
“Realizing the vision of a more perfect union governed by ‘we the people’ requires nothing less,” Lang wrote.