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ACLU Launches Grass-Roots Voting Reform Campaign

ACLU

The ACLU has begun a 50-state, grass-roots campaign called “Let People Vote” to expand voting rights in response to attempts by some state legislatures to curb voter turnout after Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. In response to state-level voter suppression and voter ID laws, the campaign will launch nationwide events to promote and expand voting rights and increase voting participation.

The ACLU elaborates:

The wave of voter suppression measures accelerated after the 2010 elections, with politicians enacting new laws that made it more difficult to register to vote and curtailed access to the ballot box. This effort got a boost from the Trump administration, which launched its own attacks on voting rights. Following President Trump’s baseless claim that 3 to 5 million people committed voter fraud during the 2016 election, the administration created the sham Pence-Kobach commission to push for restrictive voting laws.

Voting restrictions disproportionately affect the elderly, low-income voters, young people, people with disabilities and communities of color. Many places that have imposed such restrictions also have a long and shameful history of racial discrimination. In the face of these growing attacks on constitutional rights, it is time to go on offense.

The campaign began Sunday in Lawrence, Kan., where Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, has been revving up the conservative base against the nonexistent problem of voter fraud. President Trump announced May 11 that he had appointed Kobach as vice chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to investigate fraudulent voting. Truthdig columnist Amy Goodman explains:

Think of Kris Kobach as the new Paul Weyrich. “The ACLU has sued Kobach four times on voter suppression — and won every case,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote about Trump’s new election commission. “The problem we have in this country isn’t voter fraud — it’s voter suppression. And on that front, Kobach is Public Enemy No. 1.” Ari Berman is a journalist who has been writing about voter suppression for years, and has written a book on it. “Kobach is really the leading architect of voter-suppression efforts nationwide,” he said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “Before he was a leading proponent of voter suppression, he was a leading proponent of restricting immigration … basically what he was saying was that all of these people were in the country illegally and that they were voting illegally, as well. So he combined anti-immigrant sentiment with policies that would restrict voting rights.”

The ACLU says the campaign “will work to strengthen our democracy by lengthening early voting periods, making voter registration more accessible, establishing independent and nonpartisan redistricting commissions, restoring voting rights for disenfranchised communities and continuing to combat attempts at voter suppression, such as discriminatory voter ID requirements and voter purges.”

The campaign also asks Americans to look at issues pertaining to voting rights restoration and redistricting reform:

More than 6 million people can’t vote because of past criminal convictions. These individuals often have little or no way to restore their voting rights. Many voter disenfranchisement laws are carryovers from the post-Civil War “Black Codes,” which sharply curtailed the ability of African Americans to participate in public life. …

Today, disenfranchisement laws continue to fuel racial disparities in voting by disproportionally affecting African Americans, and all but two states have some form of such laws on the books.

You can find more details on the ACLU’s plan for each state here.

Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

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