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Ifill in The Root: Where Voting Rights Are Under Attack

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Southern states are moving quickly to change laws that will adversely affect minority voters.

On The RootSherrilyn Ifill, LDF's President and Director-Counsel, discusses the aftermath of the SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act, specifically how southern states have rushed to change or implement Voter ID laws.

"Within hours of the Supreme Court decision you had Southern officials saying things like, 'we are free and clear,' " said Sherrilyn Ifill, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's president and director-counsel. "What's that? 'Free and clear' to do what? They are moving to restrict access to the franchise, the most fundamental of American rights. It simply is not an exaggeration to say that nothing short of democracy is under attack."

...Since 2012, 41 states have introduced voting changes that PBS' Frontline described as "restrictive." Voter-ID laws may be the most popular. But other changes can ding minority voting rights and political influence in less obvious ways, such as making all the seats on a town or city council subject to city-wide rather than district elections, said Ifill, who attended the White House gathering. Moving a polling place less than a mile can reduce voter turnout by 10 percent, said Hailes. Other long-standing practices such as laws that disenfranchise convicted felons for life also reduce minority voting power. And some of the biggest and most damaging changes probably won't be proposed until 2014, just before the midterm election season enters full swing, Ifill said.

"This is no time for business as usual," she said. "This is really time for anyone who cares about democracy, who cares about equality, to call their Congressional representatives and say it's time to go to work, to pay close attention to what's happening in their community and report those voting changes to us, to the Department of Justice, to other groups trying to defend this democracy."