Washington Semester Prize Winner to Give Lecture on Voter ID

The College of the Holy Cross’ Center for Interdisciplinary and Special Studies has selected James Fisher ‘13, a political science major from Burlington, Vt., as the 2011 fall semester’s Maurizio Vannicelli Washington Semester Away program award recipient. He will present a talk titled “Voter ID: What’s the Problem?” on Tuesday, April 10 at 4 p.m. in the Rehm Library.

During his time in Washington, D.C., Fisher interned with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law.  As part of his job responsibilities he assisted in the publication of the advocacy group’s web content, including articles on civil rights issues, information for voters, and maps that depict the range of voter ID laws across the country. He also had the opportunity to attend congressional hearings, panel discussions, and other events related to civil rights issues of voting rights and immigration.

“The experience helped me learn more about what practicing law entails and how one can apply a law degree to social justice issues,” shares Fisher.  

In his talk, Fisher will examine the current debate over voter identification laws, and how each side emphasizes distinct problems. “I analyzed voter identification laws through an ‘impartial and academic approach’ because I found that most existing literature on the issue argues either strictly for or against voter ID,” shares Fisher.

On campus, Fisher works as a resident computer consultant in ITS, volunteers through the Spring Break Immersion Program, participates in the Holy Cross Political Union, and has tutored elementary school students in Worcester as part of  Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD).

This summer, Fisher will work as a paralegal for attorney Leslie Holman, second vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, of Holman Immigration Law, in his hometown of Burlington, Vt. This will be his second summer working in her office. 

The Vannicelli Prize is awarded each semester in honor of the late Holy Cross political science professor and Washington Semester director, Maurizio Vannicelli, for best research paper produced in the Washington Semester Away program. The recipient of the prize is awarded the opportunity to give a public lecture at the College on his or her thesis. In addition, the recipient receives a bound copy of the thesis and is presented the book award during commencement exercises.