Submit your design for a campaign button opposing voter suppression.

Americans from sea to shining sea will cast their ballots next fall. Whether you lean right or left or stand somewhere in the middle, voting is a right all of us citizens are free to exercise.

It wasn’t always that way.

2020 is not just a presidential election year. It’s the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, which granted women their vote. It’s also the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination at the polls. Yet, even those victories weren’t enough to end voter suppression for good.

In fall 2020, the West Virginia University Libraries will host an art exhibition illustrating the political process, with a spotlight on the suppression of women, minorities, and others’ votes since 1920. They’re asking you to add your name to the artists’ ballot.

The deets

Entitled “Undefeated: Canvas(s)ing the Politics of Voter Suppression Since Women’s Suffrage,” the exhibit will showcase artwork that socially critiques issues of voter suppression. Themes include information/disinformation, access/intimidation, legislation/legal questions, voter fraud, and advocacy/action.

Social media may be where we now proclaim our devotion to a particular candidate but, historically, campaign buttons held that role. All submitted art―whether photographed, painted, drawn, or digitally designed―should be in a button design with a 20-inch diameter. A committee will select which designs get displayed at the Downtown Campus Library from August 2020 through June 2021.

I’m in! But … what’s voter suppression?

If there’s one thing we can expect by next November, it’s that the media will be overrun with the cheery voices of various political candidates making various promises. These commercials may be a nuisance, but they’re just an example of political campaigning trying to sway our votes.

Voter suppression, on the other hand, tries to influence an election’s outcome by preventing a particular group from voting at all. A well-known example was the Jim Crow laws. Prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, these laws had a hand in barring minorities and other poor classes from voting due to poll taxes and literacy tests. But voter suppression has taken many forms over the decades including fraud, intimidation, and disinformation about voting procedures.

I’m done. How do I submit?

Wait! Include a short bio about yourself and a statement in relation to the exhibition’s theme, each under 200 words. Then ship your artwork or email a high-quality jpeg or pdf to: 

Sally Deskins, Exhibits Coordinator
WVU Libraries, 1549 University Ave
PO Box 6069
Morgantown, WV 26506

Make sure you paint your final stroke before the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Submissions will only be accepted until December 31, 2019.

Happy voting!
Got questions? Email, call 304.293.0369, or visit

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay.

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Jess Walker
Written by Jess Walker
Jess Walker came to West Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in English, but stayed for the culture, nature, and stories. She writes for WV Living and Morgantown magazines. Her best ideas happen when she’s outdoors, preferably near a river and with a cup of coffee in hand.