Janai Nelson, President and Director-Counsel of the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), issued the following statement regarding the myriad challenges experienced by Black voters and other voters of color across the country on Election Day:
“In the face of countless barriers, Black voters and other voters of color once again showed their unwavering commitment to exercising their right to vote in this critical election season. As votes continue to be processed and counted over the next several days and voters’ voices are heard, we must once again note the failings of the American electoral system to ensure that all voters can cast a ballot and have that ballot counted free from attempts to suppress their votes.
“During this election season, we again witnessed how our electoral system consistently disenfranchises and burdens Americans, especially voters of color. As has been the case in nearly every election, voters – disproportionately voters of color – were forced to wait in lines for hours before they could cast their ballot. In many states, voters had to deal with rampant mail-in ballot challenges and the blocking of non-partisan poll monitors by election officials. Other areas faced bomb threats and last-minute and poorly communicated changes to polling locations – 97 in Mississippi alone since 2020 and 27 since this June.
“In addition, dozens of volunteers from LDF’s Voting Rights Defender Project monitoring polls in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas reported nearly a thousand incidents throughout Election Day. These included too few paper ballots, problems with lack of accessibility and signage identifying polling locations, voter intimidation, and poll worker misconduct in Texas – where Black voters were being asked to recite their addresses out loud even after they had checked in. In Cobb County, Georgia, more than 1,000 requested absentee ballots were never sent to voters. Through the hard work of voting rights organizations and civil rights partners those ballots have since been sent overnight to those affected, with an extended return window to accommodate the delay.
“All of these reports and incidents are deeply alarming. Voting in an election should be a simple process supported by all levels of government and every election official. It is unacceptable that it has become a regular occurrence multiple times each year that voters must face these challenges simply to exercise their right as citizens. We commend their dedication to having their voices heard and once again call on local, state, and federal officials to fix these glaring issues that continue to weaken our democracy. Not another election cycle should pass without enhanced federal legislation to protect the right to vote.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.