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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

“New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot”

9/08/11

LDF Presents Testimony to Congress Regarding State Laws That Threaten to Undermine Minority Voting Rights 

(Washington, D.C.) — Today, Ryan Haygood, Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Political Participation Group, offered testimony at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights that addressed a wave of laws that erect barriers to the ballot box.

“Although the right to vote is widely recognized as constitutionally-protected, recently proposed and enacted laws in several states across the country substantially threaten the free exercise of that right,” said Haygood. “It is essential that Congress carefully scrutinizes the precise impact of these discriminatory voting measures on the political participation of the most vulnerable citizens in our democracy.”

Among other things, LDF’s testimony highlights the harmful impact that Florida’s proposal to reduce the number of early voting days available in half would have on African-American voters, more than half of whom cast their ballots during the early voting period in 2008. 

LDF’s testimony also discusses the problematic nature of Texas’ proposed law to require photo identification to vote.  That proposed voting measure, which does not permit the use of a government-issued student identification card as an acceptable form of identification at the polls (but which approves the use of a concealed weapons permit for such purposes), would disfranchise students who only possess a student identification.  This is especially true for many African-American students at Prairie View A & M University who have been the target of multiple efforts to deny their votes over many years.

“American democracy remains contested, and our present challenge is to resist persisting efforts to box significant segments of our society out from political participation.  It must seem strange to the average person that we face repeated attacks on the Voting Rights Act in court, even as efforts to narrow voting opportunities proliferate and have all the markers of a discriminatory purpose.  We can and must do better as a nation,” concluded Haygood.

LDF’s full testimony can be found here.