Explore the First Amendment Freedom to Petition

Election 2020

On November 3, 2020, Americans will go to the polls to elect the next President of the United States, their representatives in the House, and one-third of their representatives in the Senate.

Get Engaged: Vote

Voting is the ultimate expression of our freedom to petition.

Check your registration, register to vote and set reminders with www.vote.org.

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The First Amendment is the cornerstone of a government of, by and for the people. One of the five freedoms it guarantees is the right of the people to petition the government for change. Voting is the ultimate expression of petition — the ballot a citizen casts can support an incumbent or cause or vote for change and defeat them.

Elections highlight the First Amendment freedoms all Americans enjoy. Freedom of religion protects your right to develop your beliefs and values as your conscience dictates. Free speech allows citizens to argue about candidates and allows candidates to make their cases in debates and campaign ads. Freedom of the press allows journalists to report on and hold candidates accountable for their campaign promises. Those at campaign rallies exercise the freedom of assembly.

This page features how-to guides, historic lessons, First Amendment insights, plus live and recorded programs with key practitioners of the First Amendment right to petition the government for change.

Today’s Front Pages Election Coverage

For weeks leading up to Election Day and beyond, this page has showcased five newspapers a day to illustrate the role the free press plays in a democracy. Today’s selection is the final entry in the series.

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020

Today’s headlines reflect the divide between President-elect Joe Biden, who yesterday outlined his plans to battle the coronavirus, and President Trump, who continues to dispute the results of the election.

Browse Today’s Front Pages or download our app to get them delivered to your phone or tablet.

Expert Columns

Freedom Forum fellows offer their insights on the right to petition and the First Amendment.

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On behalf of the First Amendment: ‘Dear Mr. President-elect’
By Gene Policinski
The First Amendment, with its 45 words encompassing our core freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, doesn’t take political sides.

More columns:

Dig Deeper: Resources for Engaging With Elections


Report the Vote: Election 2020

Report the Vote: Election 2020

Disinformation Nation: Are You Propaganda Proof?

Disinformation Nation: Are You Propaganda Proof?

#CantDupeMe: 10 Tips to Spot Media Manipulation

#CantDupeMe: 10 Tips to Spot Media Manipulation

Decoding Elections: Process, Persuasion & Participation

Decoding Elections: Process, Persuasion & Participation

Is the System Fair?

Is the System Fair?
Explore criticisms of the political process.

Evaluating Election Ads: Examine Techniques Campaigns Use to Persuade Voters

Evaluating Election Ads: Examine Techniques Campaigns Use to Persuade Voters

Exhibits


Experience the ultimate form of petition — the right to vote — from the Newseum’s collection, past and current pop-up exhibits supported by the Freedom Forum.

An Evening with the Curator: Women Win the Vote

First Amendment Freedoms: Women Win the Vote
Support for this exhibit was provided by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.

Take a virtual tour of the First Amendment Freedoms: Women Win the Vote exhibit, which is currently on display at Ronald Reagan National airport and Dulles International airport. This exhibit tells the story of the fierce women who fought a decades-long battle so that women nationwide could vote. It displays images of historic front pages from the Newseum collection and photographs of the suffragists, plus touchable suffrage banners in purple, yellow and white, the colors of the movement. It will be on display through this year’s 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th amendment.

Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press

Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press

Every four years, Americans elect a president. And every four years, battle lines are drawn as presidential candidates and reporters face off in the conflict zone known as the campaign trail. The path to the presidency provides stories of privacy and personality, of image and character, of polls and spin. This Newseum exhibit examines the tactics used by politicians — and illuminated by the press — to put democracy to the test and a candidate in the White House.

Support for this exhibit was provided by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.

Programs


Social Media Platforms and the Fight Against Election Disinformation

Social Media Platforms and the Fight Against Election Disinformation
Nathaniel Persily, co-director of the Stanford Program on Democracy and the Internet, and others explore what social media platforms are doing to tackle disinformation, foreign interference and fake news during this election season. Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, will moderate.

First Five Now: Student Activism and the Poll Hero Project

First Five Now: Student Activism and the Poll Hero Project
Ryan Schwieger, a senior at Princeton University and co-founder of the Poll Hero Project, talks about his organization’s goal to recruit thousands of young people to be poll workers on Election Day.

Jack Weinberg (Steve Marcus, via University of California, Berkeley/The Bancroft Library)

First Five Now: The Free Speech Movement: How It All Began
“First Five Now” presents an interview with Jack Weinberg, whose act of civil disobedience 56 years ago helped launch the highly influential and revolutionary Free Speech Movement. Along with championing free speech, Weinberg used the power of petition and assembly throughout his career as he campaigned for a variety of social and environmental causes.

‘Raise Your Voice’

First Five Now: ‘Raise Your Voice’
First Five Now previews the new documentary, “Raise Your Voice,” which follows the student journalists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following their school’s mass shooting in 2018 and connects to a broader story about the importance of youth voices, particularly in an election year, as adults in their lives carry their perspectives with them into the voting booth.

For more upcoming programs, visit our events calendar here.

Gen Z on Overlooked First Amendment Freedoms


Each year the Freedom Forum selects an outstanding high school student from every state and the District of Columbia to participate in the annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. In addition to winning a $1,000 scholarship, our Free Spirit Scholars produce projects to help educate their peers about the First Amendment. Learn more about Free Spirit Scholars here.

Bridgette Adu-Wadier

The Importance of Civic Engagement Among Youth
Bridgette Adu-Wadier, a senior at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., interviewed student journalists and activists from around the country. She asked them to share ways in which they exercise their First Amendment freedoms, with particular focus on the freedoms of petition and the press, and their impacts on elections.

The New Journalism Collective

Here’s Why the Youth Vote in the 2020 Election Matters
Lily Bartin, high school senior from St. Louis, Mo., and Emily Rivera, high school senior from Miami, Fla., discuss why youth voter turnout matters and what challenges young voters face in this piece, part of The New Journalism Collective, a project started by Free Spirit Scholar alumni Josh Mysore and Joshua Yang.

It’s Your First Amendment


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