Redistricting and Voting Rights Roundup

The NAACP convenes conference on voting rights and other issues.

Posted: 03/23/2012 04:08 PM EDT

Civil rights advocates and others who oppose new voting laws and legislative district lines they say dilute minority voting strength are not backing down on efforts to ensure that hard-won rights and political gains aren’t reversed. In North Carolina, the NAACP is hosting a training institute to arm its troops with the information they need to launch effective challenges.

 

Here’s a roundup of what happened this week in the areas of redistricting and voting rights.

 

South Carolina: A panel of judges ruled in favor this week to allow the American Civil Liberties Union to participate in a lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s voter ID law, the Associated Press reports. The state, which was the first in 20 years to have its new voting rules rejected by the Department of Justice (DOJ), is suing to overturn the DOJ decision. The ACLU will represent several voters who claim they would have difficulty getting the documentation required to apply for the new ID required to vote, including a Black woman who runs a nonprofit group that helps people register to vote. The new law would force her to spend the organization’s resources on helping people get IDs instead of registering new voters.

 

North Carolina: The NAACP is hosting a Southeast Regional Civil Rights Advocacy Training Institute that will offer workshops on voting rights, civil engagement, legislative advocacy and other issues for hundreds of participants. Gloria Sweet-Love, president of the NAACP in Tennessee, told the News & Observer that the South is “where problems are and will always be” and the conference aims to “re-energize” spirits.

 

Wisconsin: In an attempt to reinstate a blocked voter ID law, Wisconsin’s State Justice Department appealed on Thursday a judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional, The Daily Cardinal reports. In two separate cases judges have issued injunctions against implementing the law, which now cannot be applied during the state’s April 3 primary. Critics of the law have argued that it would disenfranchise voters, especial minorities, seniors and students.

 

Florida: The Florida Senate has approved a second and, they hope, final redistricting map that reportedly creates “an unprecedented number of minority senators,” including five districts designed to favor Black candidates and seven districts that favor Hispanics, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

 

Illinois: The Illinois General Assembly is currently considering a voting rights law. Although there have not been any reports of voter discrimination in the state, the U.S. Department of Justice deployed officials to Chicago to monitor this week’s primary elections to ensure that minority voters didn’t face any discrimination at the polls, Fox News reports. “Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country," the Justice Department said in a statement.

 

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