Voting Rights and Redistricting Roundup

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

Posted: 08/07/2012 05:11 PM EDT
Emanuel Cleaver

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)

On Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act prohibiting the use of race, literary tests and other unnecessary obstacles to deny individuals the right to vote. The landmark legislation opened voting booths to millions of minority voters who had previously been unable to vote because of Jim Crow laws. Yet 47 years later, the hard-won law is under attack and once again millions of minority voters are at risk of being disenfranchised for reasons that some critics say have much to do with not only their skin color but President Obama's.

"Six years ago, no voter identification law existed. Today, at least 33 states have introduced contemporary versions of voter ID requirements and at least 13 states have introduced bills to end Election Day and same-day voter registration that allows millions of voters, particularly minorities, the elderly and those from low income households to participate in the democratic process," said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver. "We cannot let this stand." Here's the latest news on efforts to combat laws that could disenfranchise voters.

Romney vs. Obama and the Military Vote: Republican Mitt Romney is accusing President Obama of being a vote suppresser because of a lawsuit his campaign and the Democratic National Committee filed last week challenging a change to Ohio's early voting rules that enables only military voters to cast ballots up until the Monday right before an election and cuts off all other voters three days earlier. The ability to vote until that Monday should be extended to all voters in the state, Democrats argue. Romney and other Republicans, however, are claiming on the campaign trail that Obama wants to disenfranchise military voters by making them adhere to the three-day cutoff imposed on other voters, which the GOP nominee is calling an "outrage." What's outrageous, the Republicans' critics say, is their outright lie about the president's motives. "Making reckless allegations that civilians are trying to disenfranchise service members is one of the most destructive things you can do in the military," University of Florida law professor and former Air Force officer Diane Mazur told BuzzFeed.

Pennsylvania: As Pennsylvania voters anxiously await a ruling on its new voter ID law, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter expressed concern that it could disenfranchise "hundreds of thousands of voters." In the meantime, he told TheRoot.com, he is focusing on making sure that voters in his city have the identification they need to avoid problems at the polls and to ensure that they don't start feeling too discouraged to vote. He's spreading the word in local government buildings, recreation centers and libraries. Nutter recently shared a story with Obama campaign volunteers in Charlotte, North Carolina, about meeting a godson of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. "Why are we now, all these years later, trying to erect new barriers, new obstacles, new challenges, to people wanting the right to vote?" he said. "That's not the America that any of us have fought for."

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