When Jyoti Jasrasaria was 8, her father, who had gained citizenship six years prior, took her to vote with him at the town hall in Boxborough, Massachusetts.
“Even then,” Jasrasaria recalls, “I had a sense what we were doing was going to have an impact.”
It wasn’t until she worked in Florida on President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and saw people turned away at the polls that she decided to dedicate her career to voting rights.
Jasrasaria remembers thinking, “If we lose, it’s going to be because there was some barrier to voting baked into the system.”
Jasrasaria is now a lawyer at Elias Law Group, which represents people denied the right to vote. She works on eliminating barriers to voting, using lawsuits to challenge things like an archaic Michigan law that criminalizes paying for transportation to the polls.
“That means a church can’t hire a bus to take its members to the polls,” Jasrasaria says. “It means you can’t order an Uber for your elderly grandparent to go vote.”
For Jasrasaria, it’s not just casting a vote that matters.
“Once you can vote,” she asks, “how do we make sure your vote is being translated into political power?”
One of her proudest efforts is a 2022 lawsuit in Ohio that overturned congressional and state legislative maps drawn to unfairly favor one political party and weaken already underrepresented communities.
“Gerrymandering in Ohio has diluted the voting power of Democrats, minorities, and urban communities,” she says. “Despite all the challenges that keep being thrown our way as voters, we still have this people power that is absolutely critical.”