As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, civil rights advocates around the nation continue their fight to protect one of our most precious civil liberties — the right to vote. One of the most vocal is Attorney General Eric Holder, whose fervent support for the issue has led many liberals, including top Democrats on Capitol Hill, to believe it is the reason why he's been under fire over the failed Operation Fast and Furious gun tracking program. Undeterred, the nation's first African-American attorney general delivered a speech about the importance of voting rights on the very day that House Republicans voted not once, but twice, to hold him in contempt of Congress. Here's what other activity is taking place in the states.
Michigan: The local National Action Network chapter is planning a march from Detroit to Lansing from July 23-27 to protest new voting bills that Gov. Rick Snyder is planning to sign into law. They require voters to present photo ID to obtain an absentee ballot and declare their U.S. citizenship when registering to vote or applying for a ballot on Election Day, the Detroit Free Press reports. "Voting rights are very personal to us," said NAN chapter president Rev. Charles Williams II. "We can see very clearly what's behind the Republican Party's tactics." According to the publication, Snyder has not yet said whether he will sign the bills.
Ohio: The Cleveland chapter of the Hip Hop Caucus has launched a local "Respect My Vote" campaign to motivate voters age 18 to 36 to head to the polls in November. It also aims to educate ex-offenders about how they can regain their voting rights and be eligible once again to participate in elections. So far the group has registered 4,000 new voters and hopes to increase that number to 12,000 by the end of October. Cleveland has the state's biggest population of ex-offenders, many of whom are unaware of their rights. "There are a lot of issues in trying to get the ex-offender population to vote. People say it isn't for them or their votes don't count," Michael Jones, director of the Breaking the Cycle support group, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "They don't understand how the laws affect them as felons, yet they complain. You don't have the right to do that if you don't vote."
Georgia: The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a suit against the state of Georgia claiming that its voting procedures do not guarantee that eligible military and overseas voters can participate in a run-off election in August and future federal elections. The goal is to "ensure that Georgia's military and overseas voters, many of whom are members of our armed forces and their families serving our country around the world, will be provided the opportunity" to vote, said Thomas E. Perez, an assistant attorney general for the agency's Civil Rights Division.
Texas: The Texas Republican Party's official 2012 platform is calling for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Lone Star State is one of several mostly Southern states that are required under the law to have any changes to their voting rules pre-cleared by the Justice Department before they can be signed into law.
2012 Election: Anticipating ballot box confusion and shenanigans in the fall, President Obama's re-election team has recruited a team of thousands of lawyers to deal with the various issues that may arise. "Obama's campaign says it is particularly concerned about the implementation of new voter ID laws across the country, the possibility of anti-fraud activists challenging legitimate voters and the handling of voter registrations in the most competitive states," the Associated Press reports. Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign also is putting together an election legal team.
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