Hannah D. Eastman | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Name: Hannah D. Eastman
Title: Advocacy or Authorship: A Sustained Organizational Influence Analysis of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Voter ID Act, 2011-14
Majors: Political Science; History
Advisors: Megan Wrobel; Jordan Biro-Walters

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a non-profit organization that works with both corporations and state legislators to produce model policy on a variety of issues. Existing literature has struggled to place ALEC’s complex power dynamics within traditional methods of policy diffusion. The recent proposal of Sustained Organizational Influence (SOI) aims to identify ideologue, corporate, and legal members who impact the content of legislation by comparing bills on one topic across states against an ALEC model bill on the same subject. This study tests the framework on ALEC’s model Voter ID Act. A historical lens situates the group and founder Paul Weyrich within a richer historiography of American conservatism, utilizing Kim Phillips-Fein’s new intellectual history of conservatism to do so. This study analyzes 73 state bills introduced on the topic of voter ID cards across US state legislatures, finding that 10% contained significant amounts of plagiarism from ALEC’s model Voter ID Act. The success of voter ID as a policy and voter fraud as a rhetorical device to promote it have had significant implications on how we consider election security since ALEC introduced its model Voter ID Act in 2009.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on May 2, 2024.