All In: The Fight for Democracy Parent Guide
A solidly produced documentary about a critical issue, this film avoids partisan rancor in favor of historical context and expert interview subjects.
Parent Movie Review
When Brian Kemp was acknowledged the winner of the 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia, his opponent made a most unusual speech. Stacey Abrams said: “This is not a speech of concession. Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of faith, I cannot concede…I know that eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired effect on the electoral process in Georgia.” Since that speech, the issue of voter suppression has come to the fore in discussions of democratic renewal. All In: The Fight for Democracy goes all in in providing historical background and current context for this issue.
Parents and teachers considering this documentary for viewing by tweens and teens will breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that the movie avoids partisan rancor. In fact, Director Jack Youngelson goes out of his way to avoid partisanship. Instead of casting blame on current parties, the film dives into the history of voting restrictions, going back to colonial America and its restriction of the franchise to white, property owning males. The history of broadening suffrage, to African Americans after the Civil War and to women in the early 20th century is covered, as is the tragic reversal of voting rights for Black Americans after Reconstruction. The passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its subsequent weakening in the Shelby case in 2013 are also examined, setting the stage for today’s challenges.
All In: The Fight for Democracy provides a survey of current voter suppression tactics, touching on voter ID laws, felony disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, voter roll purges, precinct closures, and “exact match” rules. These strategies are described as are their effects on members of minority groups, the poor, and young voters. While the electoral results of these strategies are clearly illustrated, the disheartening effects on individual voters are also shown as they grieve their inability to vote or to have their votes counted. Viewers also see the frustration of Georgia voters, caught up in an election in which the Secretary of State (Brian Kemp) responsible for running the election, was also a candidate. (It’s a bit like going to a basketball game and discovering that the opposing team’s coach is also the referee. That doesn’t inspire confidence in the outcome of the game.) These voter suppression tactics strike at the very legitimacy of a system and raise the worrying question of what will happen when a social underclass realizes that it has no voice in its government. It is not a recipe for social cohesion.
In terms of production quality, this documentary shines. It’s capably produced with historical footage and animated episodes. The real stars are its interview subjects, and the documentary has managed to draw on the foremost scholars and public figures active in this field - Carl Anderson, Eric Foner, Michael Waldman, Andrew Young, Debo Adegbile, Hans von Spakovsky – all of whom provide insightful commentary.
As another vitriolic election season looms, this movie reminds us of the roots of democracy and of citizens’ responsibilities to both vote and to protect the rights of our neighbors to cast their ballot. As Stacey Abrams says: “The fundamental power of democracy lies in the right to vote. If you protect that right you create possibilities for everything else.”Directed by Liz Garbus & Lisa Cortes. Starring Stacey Abrams, Andrew Young, and Eric Foner. Running time: 107 minutes. Theatrical release September 18, 2020. Updated September 19, 2020
Watch the trailer for All In: The Fight for Democracy
All In: The Fight for Democracy
Rating & Content Info
Why is All In: The Fight for Democracy rated PG-13? All In: The Fight for Democracy is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some disturbing violent images, thematic material and strong language - all involving racism.
Violence: Photos of lynchings are seen. News footage of civil rights protests and police brutality are seen. Police are shown shoving, punching, hitting with batons and throwing, tear gas at protesters. An animated sequence shows a man being shot and lying in his own blood.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: During the interviews, one term of deity and one minor curse word are heard. A racial slur is heard in a historical context.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted
Page last updated September 19, 2020
All In: The Fight for Democracy Parents' Guide
A number of groups are dedicated to protecting a free and fair vote.
ACLU: Voting Rights
NAACP: Give Us the Ballot
The Carter Center: Election Standards
For more information about fair elections you can check these respected sources.
The Carter Center: Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation
The Carter Center: Democracy Program
This issue is widely covered in the press.
Rolling Stone: The Plot Against America
The Washington Post: Trump confesses to voter suppression
The Atlantic: The Voting Disaster Ahead
National Review: The Voter-Suppression Myth
The Atlantic: Voter Suppression is Warping Democracy
Fox News: Opinion: Is Voter Suppression a Myth?
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A number of the movie’s interview subjects have authored topics about electoral integrity. Carol Anderson is the author of One Person, No Vote, a study of voter suppression in the US. Also interviewed in the movie is Stacey Abrams, who has written about voter protections in Our Time Is Now.
Historian Eric Foner provides deep background into this topic. He has written The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution. He is also author of Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History which covers the Civil Rights Movement. His Freedom’s Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction looks at an often forgotten period of history.
Journalist Ari Beman has delved into voter suppression with Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Michael Waldman also tackles the topic in The Fight to Vote.
Young readers can learn more about voting rights in Deborah Diesen’s Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America. Johan Winter and Shane W Evans have also written Lillian’s Right to Vote. The battle for female suffrage is explained at a kid’s level in Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote, written by Kirsten Gillibrand and illustrated by Maira Kalman. Ida B Wells: Let the Truth Be Told by Dean Myers and Bonnie Christensen is the story of a remarkable woman’s struggle for the franchise. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s political activism is retold in Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport and Matt Faulkner.
Related home video titles:
Suppressed: The Fight to Vote is a short documentary that examines voter suppression in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial contest in greater details. It can be watched for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03DGjnIkTdI
Slay the Dragon provides a deep dive into the politics of gerrymandering and grass roots movements to end the practice.
Selma follows Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders as they publicly demonstrate for the right of Black Americans to vote. Mississippi Burning gives a harrowing look at the Jim Crow South. The documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble tells the story of the late civil rights icon and lifelong advocate for voting rights.