Redistricting and Voting Rights Roundup

The latest news on efforts that could disenfranchise African-American and other voters.

Posted: 06/18/2012 12:09 PM EDT
Redistricting and Voting Rights Roundup

As the November elections grow closer, new challenges to voter ID laws continue to arise. In addition, congressional lawmakers who have been forced to compete with House colleagues in the same district or are being challenged in newly drawn districts are feeling the effects of redistricting. In Michigan, redistricting could cost Congress its oldest and one of its newest African-American members. Here's the latest in voting rights and redistricting news.

Arizona: A proposed redistricting map in Phoenix could boost African-American voting power in at least one district. The new plan would increase the Black voting-age population by two percent in District 8, which is represented by Michael Johnson, the city's only African-American city council member. The move means  there is a greater likelihood that when Johnson leaves office, he would be replaced by another African-American. “Having at least one African-American on the council brings a reflection on what the city looks like versus having none at all,” said one local leader.

Michigan: Detroit's dwindling African-American population could cost the state its two Black congressmen and without a Black representative in Congress for the first time since 1955, Bloomberg reports. Reps. John Conyers and Hansen Clarke are being challenged by two white Democrats in their newly drawn districts that, like the city they represent, includes fewer African-American voters. According to political consultant Eric Foster, there's a "more than 50 percent likelihood" that Conyers and Clarke could lose their August primary races.

North Carolina: It is no coincidence that on the day the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP celebrated Juneteenth, which marks when news hit Texas that slavery had been abolished, that the keynote speaker chose the assault on voting rights as his topic. Rev. William J. Barber II in his remarks noted that a nationwide move to make voting more difficult for certain demographics also is no coincidence and attributed it to the enthusiasm minority voters demonstrated in 2008. “Now all of a sudden, when you have a mass number of black people going to the polls, and a mass number of Latinos going to the polls, and a president who happens to be African American, all of a sudden, those legislators want voter ID,” Barber said. He also urged attendees to call, email and Facebook others to get them to the polls in November.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania's new voter ID law is likely headed to court but not for the usual reasons, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Democrats who sit on the Allegheny County election board are planning to file a lawsuit challenging it on the grounds that it is too expensive and difficult to implement before the November elections when it officially goes into effect. According to county executive Rich Fitzgerald, there's not enough time to train more than 6,500 poll workers on the new procedures to check IDs and issue provisional ballots to voters who don't have the proper ID.

Arizona: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has put on hold a lower court's ruling invalidating the state's controversial new voting law that would require individuals to provide proof of citizenship to register to vote and cast a ballot, CNN reports. He's ordered parties on both sides of the issue to file legal briefs by Wednesday for the high court's consideration.

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(Photo: John Gress/Getty Images)


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