Streaming Films and Documentaries on Voting and Elections in the United States and Beyond

by Emily Walsh

While the 2020 presidential election votes are still being counted, this list of streaming documentaries and feature films at the AU Library dives into elections and voting behaviors in America and other countries around the world. Enjoy this collection of 15 videos to help take your mind off of the news and learn more about American politics and democracy. To find more streaming videos on similar issues and topics, please visit the Library’s off campus streaming guide.

Breaking the Wall of the Polling Booth : How Electoral Psychology Enlightens Democratic Citizenship


What do citizens think about in the polling booth? Despite the latest technological innovations in electoral methods, the voter’s mind has been neglected by academia. Michael Bruter of the London School of Economics aims to fill this gap with his current project funded by the European Research Council. Having published widely in the fields of political behavior, political psychology, identity, public opinion, extremism, and social science research methods, In this Falling Walls lecture, Bruter explores how voters think in 15 countries – combining surveys, interviews, experiments, and direct observation, including innovative techniques such as “election diaries,” “polling station observers,” and “emotional” questions on favorite animal, color, or drink – toward understanding more about the role of personality and emotions in the vote. His project is expected to have a significant impact on our awareness of political identity and electoral decisions, including specific topics like psychology of extremism, voters’ identity, and young people’s participation.

Capturing the Flag


A tight-knit group of friends travel to Cumberland County, North Carolina – the 2016 ‘poster child’ for voter suppression – intent on proving that the big idea of American democracy can be defended by small acts of individual citizens. What they find at the polls serves as both a warning and a call to action for anyone interested in protecting the ‘One Man, One Vote’ fundamental of our democracy.

The Elected: Presidency and Congress


In an adversarial climate of polarization and power confrontations, how can the U.S. government get anything done? In part one of this program, correspondent Hedrick Smith examines the obstacles to bipartisan compromise between the Clinton administration and Congress as well as the difficulties parties have in disciplining their own members in Congress. In part two, Mr. Smith probes the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution in Congress. Smith goes behind the scenes to get Vice President Gore; Clinton executives Leon Panetta and George Stephanopoulos; Congressional leaders Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Dick Gephardt, and Tom Daschle; Democratic loyalists and rebels; Republican freshmen and incumbents; and academic experts to divulge how serious miscalculations torpedoed hopes for both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Free Vote for France


This World War II-era newsreel includes the following segments: 1. France holds its first free municipal elections since liberation. 2. Occupation forces in Heidelberg print a newspaper and distribute it to eager citizens. 3. A French ship is loaded with grain and potatoes in Canada; airplanes drop food to the Dutch in a UN operation. 4. German surrenders are received by General Montgomery from Admiral Friedeburg and by General Walter Smith from General Jodl; General Eisenhower speaks.

Generations : American Women Win the Vote


For 72 years, from 1848 -1920, generations of women – from every state and every party, of every race and every religion – fought for the right to vote. The 19th Amendment was introduced in Congress 42 years before the House and Senate could muster the 2/3 majority to pass it. And that vote was just the beginning of another round of state battles – the final battle for ratification. This film, covering 72 years of suffrage history, describes the struggle the suffragists faced. Would women gain the right to vote before the 1920 presidential election?



Gerrymandering is defined as the carving up of a state into districts in a way that allows one political party to gain more clout than another. It has also been called the most effective way to manipulate an election’s outcome short of outright fraud. Focusing on the fight to pass Proposition 11 – drafted to give redistricting power to a bipartisan rather than legislative group – this documentary explores the ethical implications of gerrymandering and looks at some historical examples of how the practice has been used.

Kill Chain: The Cyber War On America’s Elections


In advance of the 2020 Presidential Election, Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections takes a deep dive into the weaknesses of today’s election technology, an issue that is little understood by the public or even lawmakers. From directors Simon Ardizzone, Russell Michaels and Sarah Teale, the team behind HBO’s 2006 Emmy®- nominated documentary Hacking Democracy, Kill Chain again follows Finnish hacker and cyber security expert Harri Hursti as he travels around the world and across the U.S. to show how our election systems remain unprotected, with very little accountability or transparency. Hursti’s startling journey is supplemented by candid interviews with key figures in the election security community, as well as cyber experts and U.S. senators from both parties.

Please Vote for Me


Two males and a female vie for office, indulging in low blows and spin, character assassination and gestures of goodwill, all the while gauging their standing with voters. The setting is not the Democratic presidential campaign trail but a third-grade class at an elementary school in the city of Wuhan in central China. “Please Vote for Me” chronicles a public school’s first open elections for class monitor, a position normally appointed by teachers. Weijun Chen’s film examining human nature, China’s one-child policy and the democratic electoral process made the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ documentary feature shortlist.

TEDTalks, Carole Cadwalladr-Facebook’s Role In Brexit — And the Threat to Democracy


In an unmissable talk, journalist Carole Cadwalladr digs into one of the most perplexing events in recent times: the UK’s super-close 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Tracking the result to a barrage of misleading Facebook ads targeted at vulnerable Brexit swing voters — and linking the same players and tactics to the 2016 US presidential election — Cadwalladr calls out the “gods of Silicon Valley” for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair elections a thing of the past?

Vote for Kibera


Vote for Kibera is about the people of Africa’s largest slum who have decided, despite the harsh conditions, to transform their merciless environment into a better place to live. Will they make it through the tensions and violence accompanying the presidential elections?

Voting Matters


More than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most extensive pieces of civil rights legislation, people of color across the United States still are engaged in a battle to protect their right to vote. VOTING MATTERS follows one dynamic woman working tirelessly on the ground and in the courts to ensure that they are not denied this right. When a key section of the Voting Rights Act was struck down in 2013, several states with a history of racial discrimination immediately attempted to pass laws that further restricted voter rights. This came in the form of limiting the window for voter registration, purging voters with inactive histories and requiring more restrictive forms of ID. There are currently 23 states with such voter restrictions. This film follows civil rights attorney Donita Judge as she helps several voters in Ohio cast ballots even though they initially were turned away.

Voting: Right and Responsibility


Why should I vote? Does my vote count? This program addresses these questions and reinforces the importance of voting to the political process.

What 80 Million Women Want

Feature Film

The women’s suffrage movement inspired this 1913 silent film classic, which features appearances by equal rights crusaders Emmeline Pankhurst and Harriot Stanton Blatch. As politicos work to deny women the right to vote, a young lawyer tells his activist girlfriend of government corruption that actively seeks to ensure that her voice is never heard.

Why Trump Won


Fareed Zakaria examines how Trump’s own life story—a kid from Queens who crossed the bridge to scale the heights of wealth in Manhattan – yet never quite fit in with the city’s upper crust—helped him forge a powerful connection with Americans who felt they’d been left behind.

who are fighting to secure the integrity of the vote before November 2020.

The Youngest Candidate


It’s a timeless story: an idealistic, disadvantaged citizen takes on the status quo and runs for public office. In this case, candidates in four separate races encounter more than just bigotry, sexism, and entrenched interests. They range in age from 18 to 20, which adds yet another barrier to overcome – because while most political machines covet the youth vote, it’s something else entirely when young people want power of their own. The contenders include Raul De Jesus, a mayoral candidate in Hartford, Connecticut; Ytit Chauhan, an Indian-American vying for a city council seat in Atlantic City; George Monger, who spearheaded a move to lower age requirements so he could run for the Memphis city council; and Tiffany Tupper, whose campaign for a school board post in suburban Pennsylvania shows remarkable grit and resolve

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