Representative James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, expressed dismay last week over what he views as a disturbing trend of tougher new voting laws, likening it to the Jim Crow era.
"I cannot remember — even [when] sitting in an Orangeburg county jail — when I had as much anxiety as I'm experiencing today," Clyburn told reporters, referring to the time he was detained in 1960 after protesting school segregation. He’s not alone.
Here’s the latest on redistricting and voting rights and new technology to help voters learn what could happen when they head to the polls.
Mississippi: The Republicans who control Mississippi’s state legislature are still in the process of creating new redistricting maps, and Democrats are keeping a close eye on the lines to ensure that majority Black districts are protected. “We’re prepared to file suit if we see they go into regression (dilute the black vote in minority districts) or draw out certain members through gerrymandering,” said the state’s House Minority Leader Craig Ford. In addition, Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed is drawing his own maps that he hopes will be introduced in the state’s House of Representatives. “I’m not too worried about what cookies [Republicans] bake — we’re baking our own cookies,” he said.
South Carolina: Department of Justice officials have filed court documents objecting to claims made by South Carolina Attorney Gen. Alan Wilson that the state’s new voter ID law is not discriminatory, The Associated Press reports. A scheduling conference will be held Friday and the judges overseeing the case have asked Wilson to identify the latest date on which the law must go into effect to apply to the fall elections. They also are allowing the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and the NAACP to represent voters who say they would be disenfranchised if the law is not struck down.
Voting Rights App: The Cost of Freedom Project has announced the launch of a smart phone application to provide voters with their state’s voter ID rules by texting “Voter ID” or their state’s abbreviation. Callers in Ohio, for example will receive this message: No photo ID required. To check your voter registration and polling place location, visit http://bit.ly/OHVoter or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. “The Cost of Freedom App provides information on photo ID requirements for all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” said Faye M. Anderson, chief evangelist for the Cost of Freedom Project. “Election Day is less than seven months away. It’s not enough to take a stand against voter suppression. We must help voters get ready. The Cost of Freedom App jumpstarts the application process for voters who lack an official photo ID.”
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Reps. John Myers and Dwight Evans are drafting a bill to overturn the commonwealth’s new voter ID law that will go into effect this November. Voters can get free IDs that are estimated to cost millions of dollars to provide. Individuals who show up to the polls without a state-sanctioned ID will be allowed to vote, but the ballot won’t count unless the requisite photo identification is presented to the county election office within six days of the election. “If you want to repeal something, repeal this stupid, racist, out-of-touch effort against women, minorities and blacks," said Myers during a Tuesday press conference. The American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP have announced plans to challenge the month-old law in court because they believe it discriminates against the elderly, the poor, urban residents and the disabled.
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