Voting Rights & Elections

Protecting voting rights and well-run elections are the very heart of a functioning democracy. Elections should be free, fair, accessible, and trusted. Yet, far too often, our elections fall short of that aspiration.

Policies related to the ease or difficulty of registering to vote and accessible options for casting a ballot impact turnout. Voters’ experiences vary widely by zip code—some communities face polling place closures and long lines, while others have new top-of-the-line technology and an abundance of voting options. Voter suppression and disinformation efforts erode trust that elections are fair and accurate. This focus area seeks to increase participation in our democracy by all voters - especially voters of color and young voters.

Goal: Election systems rooted in fairness, equitable access and accuracy.


  • Protecting and expanding voting rights, access to the vote, and promoting tested elections best practices.
    • This initiative includes support for proactive efforts to improve voter access, such as adoption of automatic and same-day voter registration, improve access and efficiency of options to vote before and on Election Day. It also includes defending against efforts to intentionally or unintentionally make it harder to vote, such as voter purges that remove eligible voters from voter rolls. Finally, this initiative includes support for development and adoption of election administration best practices.
  • Support research and policy solutions to remedy voting barriers that are a product of systemic racism or have discriminatory impact.
    • There are voting policies and practices that appear neutral on their face but have disparate impact or originated from efforts to bar voting by certain racial groups. This initiative includes efforts to revitalize and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, as well as to explore the development or expansion of other racial equity-focused voting policy, such as addressing how racial disparities in the criminal justice system have historically been tied to voter disenfranchisement policies.


Research Report

Investing in Governance and Management Can Make Violence Reduction Efforts Successful

An action research and practice agenda to clarify the challenges and opportunities inherent to implementing, managing and governing community violence intervention (CVI) work in cities.

Research Report

Debt Collection Disproportionately Impacts, Creates Greater Inequity for MI Residents

This week, the Justice for All Commission (JFAC) released a comprehensive report on debt collection lawsuits across Michigan.

Research Report

Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence: Recommendations to Advance Policy, Practice and Research

Report with recommendations to advance policy, practice and research by a group of experts convened by the Joyce Foundation beginning in 2019 under the banner “Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence.”

Research Report

Examining inequitable water debt in Chicago

Report by grantees Elevate and Metropolitan Planning Council examined millions of residential water bills from 2015-2020. The City of Chicago Water Affordability Analysis found that the lowest income households are the most burdened with high water bills.

Research Report

Lead in school drinking water

New Joyce-funded report by NASBE and Elevate on how states are dealing with the issue of lead in school drinking water and offers recommendations on how to improve.