Newsworthy by Faculty Member | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Newsworthy by Faculty Member

Newsworthy for Soto, Victoria M. DeFrancesco

September 16, 2020

Protecting the Right to Vote with the Travis & Harris County Clerks

The coronavirus pandemic is still wreaking havoc throughout the country, forcing election officials to rethink many of their normal protocols. Here in Texas, unlike in many other states, expanded mail-in voting — which would help to alleviate some of the concerns of in-person voting — has not been allowed. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir (MPAff '81) and Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins joined us to talk about the challenges they have faced in preparing for a safe 2020 election.

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NewsAugust 28, 2020

LBJ School at Texas Tribune Festival 2020

Alumni and faculty from the LBJ School of Public Affairs will lead conversations on urban policy, state and local government and more at the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival. LBJ School students are part of the festival’s social media insider team, which comes with access to 30 days of online programming with more than 250 speakers and 100 engaging conversations. Find out more at 

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August 26, 2020

Why Don't All Americans Vote and How Can We Change That?

About 40 percent of Americans and half of the country's young adults did not vote in the 2016 presidential election and the numbers are even lower for non-presidential races. Why? Journalist and UT alumna Erin Geiger Smith answers that question and more in her new book, Thank you for Voting: The Maddening, Enlightening, Inspiring Truth About Voting in America. She joined us — along with Claudia Sandoval, a second-year graduate student at the LBJ School, and Alexis Tatum, a graduate of the Moody College of Communication — to discuss the long and continuing fight for voting equality, why so few Americans today vote, and innovative ways to educate and motivate people to get out and vote.

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Media MentionAugust 26, 2020

Celebration of women’s suffrage continues with League of Women Voters event

The centennial celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment continued Wednesday as the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area hosted a virtual celebration honoring women’s efforts to further democracy over the past 100 years.

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July 16, 2020

U.S. Election Security in the Shadow of COVID-19

Elections are regarded as a reflection of the strength and qualities of a country's democracy. The 2016 election revealed deep flaws in the U.S. voting process. Election security was a national security concern in 2020 even before the global COVID-19 pandemic put the logistics of an election into question. What is the status of the critical infrastructure that underpins fair and open voting? Can we ensure a voting process that upholds confidence in American democracy? LaShawn Warren, EVP of government affairs at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, joined Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, and LBJ's Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.

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July 1, 2020

American While Black — Reaching the Policy Tipping Point

Dr. Niambi Carter, associate professor at Howard University, joined us to talk about institutional racism in this country both historically and today. Her recent book, "American While Black: African Americans, Immigration, and the Limits of Citizenship," is a timely analysis of how racial black identity, American heritage and notions of citizenship shape our contemporary political and policy landscape. In this moderated conversation with the LBJ School's Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, she discussed how public policies such as the "war on drugs" have entrenched inequitable systems and what policy change is necessary for Black Americans to not just survive but thrive in the United States.

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Media MentionJune 22, 2020

Latino voters worried about climate change could swing 2020 election

Latinos consistently vote in smaller numbers than other groups. The reasons are varied. Latinos often face structural barriers, like onerous voter ID laws or long lines at polling places. Many are immigrants or the children of immigrants and have never voted nor seen their parents vote. The biggest factor, however, may be that politicians are failing to reach Latinos or failing to speak to issues Latinos care about, said Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, assistant dean for civic engagement at the University of Texas. "There is a need to attack apathy," she said. "While structural barriers do have an impact, the problem is apathy and figuring out what policies connect most to people." Consistently, Latinos say they want policies that address climate change.

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Media MentionJune 11, 2020

What does representative policy look like with Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

This episode of "Organize Your Butterflies" features a conversation with Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto, assistant dean of civic engagement, lecturer and faculty affiliate of Mexican-American and Latino Studies, and Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA. In her various roles, Dr. Soto strives to lead dialogues on what effective public policy looks like from an academic perspective.

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Media MentionMay 27, 2020

Elizabeth Warren's softening on Medicare signals she's serious about being Biden's VP

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's continued evolution in how she talks about health care serve as the latest signal to former Vice President Joe Biden that she's serious about being seen as a viable governing partner, as his campaign's search for a vice presidential nominee accelerates.

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April 29, 2020

Modeling COVID-19 and Its Policy Applications

LBJ School Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement Victoria DeFrancesco Soto talked with Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor in the Departments of Integrative Biology and Statistics and Data Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Meyers has been at the forefront of modeling COVID-19 outbreaks and informing government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Office for Science and Technology. 

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