Link to What's New This Week Election Law and Received Authority

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Shared Reading: Will My Vote Count?

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: July 31, 2004
Latest Update: July 31, 2004

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Index of Topics on Site Election Law and "Received Authority"

  1. Introduction Why I chose to share this reading.
  2. Focus: Main point of this reading.
  3. Reading Full identification of source for reading AND excerpt.
  4. Concepts: Concepts and Key Words.
  5. Discussion Discussion questions.
  6. Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses What this has to do with our class.

* * *


  • I wanted to share this reading with you as an example of the issues you will need to be aware of in this Fall of 2004 to make every effort to see that your vote does count. Votes are more likely not to count when voters accept those conditions in silence. Since one of our focuses is on answerability, we know the importance of voicing our insistence upon our vote counting. Along the way you will receive an entire smorgasbord of advice from interested groups with their own agendas. That's the received authority you need to recgonize. I hope this reading will encourage you to speak to your friends, your family, your neighbors about how to voice objections effectively and how to prevent your vote being cancelled out or lost.


  • I would like you to come away from this reading with a sense of what the issues are in voting this Fall, and how you can help your community overcome any barriers to its participation in the election.

Concepts and Key Words:

  • received authority: Authority granted on some ascribed status that you trust. "My teacher said it." Teacher is received authority. "My dad said it." Dad is received authority. "The text book said it." Text book is received authority. "The President said so." The President is received authority. "My friend said so." My friend is received authority. Are all these authorities equal when it comes to trust in the validity of what they say?

  • legitimacy: the quality of government that permits every citizen a forum in which to be heard in good faith and in which the vote of each qualified citizen is protected.

  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): League of Women Voters does things that government agencies often do, but is privately organized and run.


  • Election Law at Moritz College of law
    " Please note:
    "Election Law @ Moritz is nonpartisan and does not endorse, support, or oppose any candidate, campaign, or party. Opinions expressed by individuals associated with Election Law @ Moritz, either on this web site or in connection with conferences or other activities undertaken by the program, represent solely the views of the individuals offering the opinions and not the program itself."

    That statement on nonpartisanship is important. I tend to accept the site's statement because the site represents a law school, but notice that that is placing trust in "received authority." You must remain alert to unstated assumptions that lead to positions that are biased in spite of the authority's denial of that bias. Trust, but remain open to contradictions and further evidence.

    Read Prof. Tokaji's comments on chads and paper trails: The Paper Trail Debate Daniel P. Tokaji, Assistant Professor of Law. Backup

  • Election Security League of Women Voters. Voter Registration Los Angeles County

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why should we read election law?. We're not lawyers.

    Consider that the most frequently recommended enhancement to answerability is awareness. You cannot protect your vote if you are unaware of how and in what ways it is possible for others to manipulate the election in ways that will cancel the value of your vote. And it does little good for you to protect one single vote; much more good for you to educate your family, friends, and community, to guarantee that all your votes count. So share this information. No, not on the computer. Computers scare some people. Print out the stuff you want to share and give them copies they can keep and read later. Make sure they understand the stuff you give them. Talk about it. Awareness and familiarity with illocutionary discussions means they are more likely to get it and to do something about it.

  2. I don't have time for that. I'm taking five courses. What do you want me to do?

    I want you to listen attentively in class or in workshops, make prints of shared readings that you think matter, and then take a few minutes of your time over lunch or dinner with someone, or at church, or the synagogue, or the mosque, or wherever, to share those prints of readings that mattered to you. Then I want you to e-mail me, telling me what you've done so we can all share the ways in which you managed to fit this into your crammed schedule. That e-mail should be one of your course submissions, so you can affort the time - it's part of the professional work that goes with one of our courses.

  3. But I don't feel secure telling people about election laws. Help!

    Good point. Me either. So I didn't. I used a link to someone who did know, a law firm. And I made that link available to you, so you can at least have some basic information. But if that's not enough to make you feel secure, that's OK. What you want to do is have a copy of the shared reading for any friend or community member who would like to know more, and make everyone aware of what the major problems are that could prevent their vote from counting. We'll make a list of those as part of our shared reading. Maybe that list is what you want to share with others. And/or tell them how to get to our site for more information.

Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses:

  • Agencies:
    Sample linking: What agencies would you contact in our county to discover what is being done about assuring the vote count in your area? Voter Registration Los Angeles County

  • Criminal Justice:
    Sample linking: Ways in which some groups are underrepresented in the unstated assumptions of our theories. How does this reading serve to illustrate adversarialism, mutuality, retribution, revenge, illocutionary understanding, the definition and operation of the criminal justice system?

  • Law:
    Sample linking: Extent to which laws are made on the assumption that we are all essentially assimilated to the dominant culture. How does this reading help us see the need for contextual readings in law? How does it relate to our natural instincts to seek some kind of natural law? What facts and principles does the reading offer for discourse that could clarify for Others validity claims presented by an Obscure Other?

  • Moot Court:
    Sample linking: Ways in which to make validty claims of harm understood by those who have never experienced many of the world's different perspectives. How can this reading enlighten our praxis in terms of different kinds of discourse, like instrumental, illocutionary, governance?

  • Women in Poverty:
    Sample linking: The culture of poverty and assimilation. How does the reading deal with our underlying assumptions about poverty, especially poverty of the exploited, the NOT- male? What does the reading suggest of the interrelationship between our society and its children, generally cared for by women, often poor?

  • Race, Gender, Class:
    Sample linking: The extent to which silence has been imposed by these affiliations so that domination and discrimination have entered our unstated assumptions in interpersonal relations and the structural context arising from them. What does the reading tell us about exploitation and alternative ways to deal with one another? What does it tell us about institutionalized -isms and our denial of complicity? What does it tell us about our common humanity?

  • Religion:
    Sample linking: The spiritual component. Humans are spiritual creatures, creatures that recognize moments that go beyond ourselves to God, Allah, Isis, Gaia, the Universe, or a deep sense of responsibility to create our own meanng. How does the reading fit into our ability, our need to create such meaning in life?

  • Love !A:
    Sample linking: What's the aesthetic link in this reading? How does it bring us closer to one another as humans? What does it tell us about our need for love, unconditional love, not rewards for doing well or being well, but caring and acceptance for being who we are?

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, August 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.