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The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and the NAACP have been tracking the rising tide of legislative measures designed to block access to the polls for voters of color. What our research has uncovered is a cause for grave concern: a coordinated and comprehensive assault has been launched against our voting rights.
The findings of our research are gathered in this report, Defending Democrary: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America. The report reveals direct connections between the trend of increasing, unprecedented turnout among voters of color and the proliferation of restrictive measures across the country designed to thwart electoral strength among people of color—particularly those who are poor, young, or elderly.
These voting restrictions have been pushed in states with large communities of color where political participation has surged. The measures range from new and enhanced voter identification requirements to provisions that will curtail voter access to registration, inhibit critical voter registration drives, limit voting periods, and tighten the ability to cast ballots.
In all, 14 states have passed 25 various measures designed to restrict or limit the ballot access of voters of color, threatening to disfranchise millions of people, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color.
Since the ratification of the 15th Amendment and, later, the Voting Rights Act, we have been summoned to fight to protect the power and potential of the African-American vote from attempts to undermine the promise of democracy. Not surprisingly, the states with the highest
voter turnout among people of color in the 2008 elections and population growth among voters of color are the states pushing the most restrictive voting laws in the past year.
Whether these measures target voter registration, third-party voter registration, absentee or early voting, people with felony convictions, or simply make it more difficult for registered voters to cast their ballots on Election Day, they all threaten to keep voters of color from exercising the fundamental right that is preservative of all other legal rights.
To that end, we have created this report as a tool to sound the alarm, to inform voters, and to initiate a campaign to protect the free and equal exercise of our right to vote. This ambitious public education tool will equip voters with the information they need to protect the vote, to provide organizing points, and to mount voter education activities in local communities.
The right to vote is indeed the cornerstone of our democracy. Please join us as we continue our quest to preserve and to protect that right for all Americans.