Opportunity & Inclusion

The Opportunity and Inclusion initiative explores racial and ethnic disparities in access to and participation in the political and health care systems in the U.S.  We conduct and commission multi-disciplinary research and examine how changes in legal structures and policies, as well as public education, can empower traditionally disenfranchised and excluded communities. 

Eliminating Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities

Childhood Obesity

The Warren Institute received support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to address the disproportionately high prevalence of obesity and overweight among African American, Latino and Native American children.  We have focused on how disparities in access to recreational venues and safe outdoor areas may be a contributing factor to disparate rates of obesity and how the law can be used to reduce those disparities.  We are currently conducting a 50 state review of the law regarding provision and funding of recreational venues and facilities that promote children’s exercise and are investigating several cities' recreational systems.  The final product will be a primer on the various layers of government that administer recreation services for grassroots community members who seek to improve access to and availability of local recreation venues.  With further funding, we plan to continue our efforts to inform the public and elected officials about ways the law and land use regulation can help improve health outcomes for low-income residents of color.

Voting Rights and Democratic Participation

Professor David Kirp of the Goldman School of Public Policy and Dean Christopher Edley of the UC Berkeley Law School in conjunction with researchers from the Department of Political Science co-authored a report which analyzes the effect of race baiting in American electionsand identifies "The Dirty Dozen" as case studies which are the most disturbing uses of race in elections during the past quarter century. It offers valuable lessons for this election cycle. The report, "Race Bait '08: Lessons Learned from the Political Dirty Dozen: 12 Cases of Playing the Race Card, 1983-2007" is available here.

Voting Rights Act Reauthorization of 2006, edited by Ana Henderson

This volume sets forth twelve commissioned studies regarding the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act that were set to expire in 2007. Earlier drafts of these studies, along with several others commissioned were provided to Congressional legislators during the reauthorization debate in 2006. Individual chapters are available here.

Copies of the book are available for $25.00 and may be ordered directly from the Warren Institute by completing and returning this order form. For further information about ordering this publication, email warreninstitute@law.berkeley.edu or call Janet Velazquez at (510) 643-4091.

by Christopher Edley, Jr.

Part I: Social Science Perspectives

  • Chapter 1 - Black-Majority Districts or Black Influence Districts? Evaluating the Representation of African Americans in the Wake of Georgia v. Ashcroft By Christian R. Grose
  • Chapter 2 - Racial Redistricting and the Election of African-American County Supervisors in Mississippi
    By David Lublin and Cheryl Lampkin
  • Chapter 3 - More Information Requests and the Deterrent Effect of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
    By Luis Ricardo Fraga and Maria Lizet Ocampo
  • Chapter 4 - Transforming Votes into Victories: Turnout, Institutional Context, and Minority Representation in Local Politics - by By Zoltan Hajnal and Jessica Trounstine
  • Chapter 5 - An Assessment of Racially Polarized Voting For and Against Latino Candidates
    By Yishaiya Absoch, Matt A. Barreto, and Nathan D.Woods
  • Chapter 6 - Majority-Minority Districts,Co-Ethnic Candidates, and Mobilization Effects
    By Gary M. Segura and Nathan D. Woods
  • Chapter 7 - Verifying Implementationof Language Provisions in the Voting Rights Act
    By Michael Jones-Correa and Israel Waismel-Manor 


Part II: Legal Perspectives

  • Chapter 8 - Not Like the South? Regional Variation and Political Participation Through the Lens of Section 2
    By Ellen Katz
  • Chapter 9 - Saving Section 5: Reflections on Georgia v. Ashcroft and its Impact on the Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act By David J. Becker
  • Chapter 10 - An Assessment of the Bailout Provisions of the Voting Rights Act
    By J. Gerald Hebert
  • Chapter 11 - Language Accommodation and the Voting Rights Act
    By Angelo N. Ancheta
  • Chapter 12 - Language Protections for All? Extending and Expanding the Language Protections of the Voting Rights Act
    By Jocelyn Benson


Warren Institute Recommendations to Amend the Voting Rights Act

The Warren Institute released a report titled, “Voting Rights Act Reauthorization: Research-Based Recommendations to Improve Voting Access,” which includes recommendations to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to improve voters’ access to the franchise. Certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act, considered one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation, are set to expire in 2007, and Congress is currently debating how to reauthorize them. The expiring provisions include

  • requirements that certain jurisdictions obtain preclearance or permission prior to making any changes to their voting practices (“Section 5”);
  • requirements that certain jurisdictions provide all election-related information in certain languages other than English (“Section 203”); and
  • measures that allow the federal government to send observers to monitor polling place and vote-tallying activities in certain jurisdictions.

Download the report "Voting Rights Act Authorization: Research-Based Recommendations to Improve Voting Access" (PDF).

Reauthorization of Sections 5 and 203 of the Voting Rights Act

The passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided the single greatest legislative victory in the African-American struggle for political equality and democratic voice. The statute marked the beginning of an extended federal campaign to give effect to the rights contained in the Fifteenth Amendment and to make America live up to its promises of political liberty and freedom. In 1975, the Act was amended to extend protection and guarantee voting rights to language minorities. Forty years and several reauthorizations later, the Act continues to embrace protections for both racial and language minority groups. It remains one of the nation's premier vehicles for advancing the cause of racial fairness in the electoral arena.

While several important provisions of the Act are permanent law, in 2007 several sections of the Act were set to expire unless reauthorized by the Congress. Portions of the Act set to expire included section 5, which requires that certain jurisdictions "preclear" all voting changes with the federal government prior to implementation, and section 203, which requires certain jurisdictions to provide election-related information in languages other than English.

In light of recently-announced constitutional principles restricting remedial civil rights legislation, reauthorizing the VRA demanded an ambitious examination of whether and how sections 5 and 203 remain vital to the enfranchisement of communities of color. To this end, the Warren Institute solicited proposals for scholarship and commissioned a series of research and policy papers. Commissioned research focused on the social science and legal questions that were likely to be of critical importance to public debate and policymaking around the congressional reauthorization of key provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Finished products were made available to the public, the media, policy actors, civil rights organizations and to members of Congress.

To help guide this initiative, the Warren Institute assembled an extraordinary group of scholars and practitioners on the Voting Rights Research Advisory Board, all of whom share our confidence that superb scholarship can, if focused on the crucial questions, make a critical contribution to the renewal of and reinvigorated implementation of this foundational element of democracy and civil rights.

Download the full project description (PDF).
Download the 2005 call for paper proposals (PDF).

Symposium: “Protecting Democracy: Using Research to Inform the Voting Rights Reauthorization Debate”

The Warren Institute and the Institute for Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley co-sponsored a symposium on February 9, 2006, titled Protecting Democracy: Using Research to Inform the Voting Rights Reauthorization Debate. The symposium was held at the U.C. Washington Center in Washington, DC, and brought together more than 50 leading voting rights experts from the academic, policy and advocacy communities to discuss well over a dozen new studies addressing Section 5 and Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. While several important provisions of the Act are permanent, Section 5 and Section 203 were set to expire in 2007. Section 5 requires that certain jurisdictions “preclear” all proposed voting rights changes with the federal government prior to implementation, and Section 203 requires certain jurisdictions to provide election-related was crucial to further the goals of (1) linking the resources and expertise of academia with the experience and advocacy efforts information in languages other than English.

Following the symposium, on February 10, 2006, the Warren Institute and the California Institute for Federal Policy Research sponsored a congressional briefing with staff from both the House and Senate in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill. At the briefing, several voting rights experts and scholars from the February 9th symposium shared their research findings in presentations covering a broad range of topics, including: the deterrent role of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the impact of the bilingual provisions of Section 203, the significance of the Georgia v. Ashcroft decision on renewal of the Voting Rights Act, and judicial findings under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The Warren Institute published the research studies prepared for the symposium in two phases. First, in order to inform the debate on reauthorization, the Warren Institute posted draft papers to its website via a password-protected page which was accessible to conference participants and congressional staff.

The Warren Institute also worked with key congressional staff and advocacy organizations to incorporate the research into the congressional record for reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Second, the Warren Institute published a volume of selected papers after a thorough peer-reviewed and final editing process. Additional papers are provided here: