PRESS RELEASES - 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

ELECTION PROTECTION IDENTIFIES DOXXING OF FLORIDA ELECTION OFFICIALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA, LAW ENFORCEMENT NOTIFIED

 

November 14, 2018

WASHINGTON – Yesterday morning, Election Protection discovered Facebook and Twitter posts doxxing south Florida election officials. The posts target Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor of Elections of Broward County, and Susan Bucher, the Supervisor of Elections of Palm Beach County. Both are women of color. The posts disclose the officials’ names, addresses, phone numbers, photos, and photos of their homes.

Election Protection immediately reported this content to Facebook and Twitter, who promptly removed it from their sites. Election Protection also notified Ms. Snipes and Ms. Bucher directly and reported this incident to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice.

The posts were made primarily on Facebook by an individual whose Facebook account is dominated by Confederate flags and imagery; his profile picture is a statue of Jefferson Davis and his car is covered in Confederate symbols and stickers. This person shared the content on a number of Facebook Pages, including “Confederate Resistance.” A few other individuals likewise shared the information on Facebook and Twitter.

Election Protection is the largest national, nonpartisan, nonprofit voting rights coalition; it operates a voter information hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) that voters can call if they encounter trouble voting or see issues at the polls. Election Protection is led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and received direct assistance in this matter from Common Cause and an outside researcher.

“Doxxing of this nature creates an imminent safety risk for the targeted individuals, can intimidate election officials and communities, and could constitute unlawful interference with the electoral process,” said David Brody, Counsel & Senior Fellow for Privacy and Technology at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “That two women of color were specifically targeted for their role in officiating a federal election is especially concerning.”

“The harassment and smear campaign against Florida elections officials is reckless and undemocratic and elected officials should not be encouraging it as they have through very public criticisms,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “It is helpful that Facebook relies on groups like Common Cause and the Lawyer’s Committee to flag these violations, but there should be better tools in place to identify and remove these types of posts faster. The social media companies need to take proactive steps to enforce their own rules more vigorously and more quickly.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Election Protection – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – will join hundreds of organizations across the country in a national effort to register people to vote for National Voter Registration Day this Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

To support national, state and local partners’ efforts to register voters, the nationwide nonpartisan Election Protection (EP) hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683), will be answering calls in real time from 9am to 7pm EDT, verifying voters’ registration status and helping them navigate the voter registration process. In addition to registration-related assistance, our trained volunteers will be available to answer a wide range of voting questions from voter ID, to language assistance resources.

For assistance in Spanish, we invite callers to dial 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) for live assistance during the hours of 8am to 8pm EST. For Arabic speakers, please call 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) for live assistance between 9am to 7pm. For bilingual assistance in Bengali, Cantonese, English, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Urdu or Vietnamese, dial 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683).

Going forward from National Voter Registration Day (September 25) to Election Day (November 6), the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be LIVE weekdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST and will expand hours to evenings and weekends as Election Day approaches. Our partner hotlines will also be increasing the hours they will take calls live leading up to Election Day.

“The importance of voter registration cannot be overstated.  In the face of an administration determined to take away the right to vote for millions of Americans, the work of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to inform citizens of their voting rights and to protect those rights is even more pressing,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “An informed electorate gives way to increased participation.  This National Voter Registration Day, we encourage the public to contact 866-OUR-VOTE with any voting-related questions, and above all, to register to vote so that your voice can be heard.” 

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. 

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About Election Protection:

Founded in 2001, Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, 888-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) administered by the Arab American Institute and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.  The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide.  For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

 Contact
Derrick Robinson
[email protected]
202-662-8317

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 20, 2018

PHOENIX, AZ – In advance of the general election, advocacy groups including the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, and Promise Arizona are urging Arizona voters to check that their voter registration information is up to date and accurate. By Secretary Michele Reagan’s own estimate, 384,000 people did not have their voter registration addresses updated in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) when they made an address change with the Motor Vehicle Division. As a result, voters who recently moved may find that they are not on the rolls at the precinct corresponding to their home address. In addition, voters who vote by mail may have their ballot sent to an old address.

The deadline for voter registration in Arizona is October 9, 2018. Eligible voters who are not registered or need to update their address can do so online through the ServiceArizona website: https://servicearizona.com/voterRegistration. Voters already registered to vote at their current address need not re-register.

As a result of the Secretary’s admitted failure to update voter registration records in compliance with the NVRA, the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, and Promise Arizona sued Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan in August. The plaintiffs sought a court order requiring the Secretary of State to take certain steps to help potentially impacted voters in time for the November 2018 elections. While the court declined to order the Secretary to take any steps before the 2018 election, Secretary Reagan and the Arizona Department of Transportation have stated that they intend to fix these violations next year as part of computer systems upgrades scheduled for 2019.

Plaintiffs also reached an agreement with public assistance agencies that failed to offer voter registration services to citizens over the past year, as required by the National Voter Registration Act. In August, as part of the agreement, the agencies sent voter registration forms to 275,000 voters who had contact with these agencies between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. Clients of these agencies can use these forms to register to vote or update their voter registration before the October 9, 2018 voter registration deadline.

The plaintiffs are represented in the case by Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU of Arizona, and the law firm Bryan Cave Leighton & Paisner LLP.

“We are disappointed that the federal court denied the request for interim relief in this case even though the court recognized that the Secretary of State is violating the NVRA by not performing address updates for voter registration records,” said Sarah Brannon, a senior attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “We urge all registered voters in Arizona to check the status of their voter registration and make sure that they are registered to vote at their current address.”

“By failing to take even minimal steps to remedy her admitted violation of federal law, the Secretary of State leaves hundreds of thousands of Arizona voters at risk of losing their right to vote,” said Stuart Naifeh, senior counsel at Demos. “Now civic engagement groups and voters themselves will have to pick up the slack to be sure registered voters are not denied the right to vote because the Secretary failed to do her job.”

“Delaying actions until next year, after midterm elections, is unacceptable for our communities. We need solutions that allow people to participate in elections—this should go without saying for the Secretary of State. We are disappointed in this dismissive approach towards voters,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota.

“The League of Women Voters wants to ensure all eligible voters have the opportunity to have their voices heard in this upcoming midterm election. Unfortunately, 384,000 voters’ voices may not be heard because of the Secretary of State’s failure to remedy her violations,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, co-President, League of Women Voters of Arizona. “We encourage all voters concerned that their registrations may be out of date to check the status of their registration,” which they can do at https://voter.azsos.gov/VoterView/RegistrantSearch.do.

Approximately 80 percent of Arizona voters vote by mail, with most of those registered on the state’s Permanent Early Voting List. Voters on the Permanent Early Voting List who have recently moved may not receive their ballots unless they update their voting address before October 9, 2018. This can be done at https://servicearizona.com/voterRegistration. After that date and through October 26, 2018, early voters can request a new early ballot by calling their local election officials or calling the AZ SOS at 1-877-THE VOTE (877-843-8683).

Voters who have moved within the same county and miss the deadline to update their address may still vote at the precinct corresponding to their new address, but they will be required to vote by provisional ballot. Voters can find the correct precinct for their new address online at https://voter.azsos.gov/VoterView/PollingPlaceSearch.do or by calling the non-partisan Election Protection hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).

Arizona voters can obtain assistance, in English or Spanish, with voter registration, address updates, requesting an early ballot or finding their polling location by calling 866-OUR-VOTE (English) or 888 Ve-Y-Vota (English/Spanish).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Responds to Widespread Reports of New Yorkers’ Names Missing from Voter Rolls

Washington, DC – In response to the difficulties faced by New York voters when seeking their right to vote, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement:

“Once again, voters across New York arrived at the polls to find that their names did not appear on the registration rolls. Voters who believe they are eligible should not allow poll workers to turn them away and should insist, at minimum, on an affidavit ballot. We urge the public to contact Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE and report problems that they encounter. We will use every tool in our arsenal to determine the source of these errors in New York and continue to push state officials to modernize their antiquated election system.”

Throughout the day, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, has been fielding calls from New York voters who have experienced problems at the polls as well as addressing other voting-related questions.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) is Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live phone assistance to New York voters during their September 13 state and local primary elections.

Legal volunteers will staff the non-partisan Election Protection hotlines live 6am until 9pm EDT to answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Leading up to the primary, the hotlines will be monitored for voice messages.

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 3, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) is Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in conjunction with our partner organization the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, will provide assistance to Bay State voters during the September 4 Primary.

Legal volunteers will staff the non-partisan Election Protection hotlines live 7am until 8pm EDT to answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Leading up to the primary, the hotlines will be monitored for voice messages.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or delays at the poll, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

Sophia Hall, attorney with the Boston-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice noted that, “The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice is again spear-heading Massachusetts Election Protection to ensure that all eligible Americans have the ability to cast a meaningful ballot and have their vote counted. In collaboration with the national Election Protection office, we will ensure that all Massachusetts voters have their questions and concerns addressed in real-time on Election Day, September 4, 2018.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 28, 2018

National Non-Partisan Election Protection Expresses Deep Regrets Over Maricopa County Board of Supervisor’s Refusal to Extend Voting Hours

Laura Grace, Election Protection Manager for the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the following statement today concerning the inability of Maricopa County to have 62 polling places fully operational at the start of today’s Primary Day elections.

“Election Protection is extremely disappointed in the Maricopa County Board of Supervisor’s decision not to extend voting hours for polling stations that opened hours late due to equipment problems this morning. Our Election Protection hotlines received calls and saw reports from many impacted voters who faced significant challenges to casting their ballot today. Some waited in long lines, some had to travel farther away to vote at a bonus voting center, some were told to vote provisionally at a nearby polling station, and some went home without voting.

““It is deeply regrettable that the Board of Supervisors did not offer a reasonable solution to voters affected by this serious mishap. Instead, the county left the burden on voters to spend hours trying to cast a ballot, cast provisional ballots, or travel far from their homes to vote at bonus vote centers. Unfortunately, as a result, countless voters may have lost their opportunity to cast their ballot today. We urge Maricopa County to thoroughly investigate this problem and take all necessary steps to prevent these types of issues from keeping voters from the polls in November.

The Election Protection hotlines will remain open to take voters’ calls until the officlal close of polling hours. We encourage voters to call us at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, where trained volunteers stand ready to help answer questions and to report stories of today’s experiences voting.”

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day on September 25, until the November 6 Midterm Election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 28, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide phone assistance to voters in Oklahoma during their August 28 Primary Runoff Election.

Legal volunteers will staff the non-partisan Election Protection hotlines today from 6am until 9pm CDT to answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 27, 2018

ELECTION PROTECTION AND FLORIDA PARTNERS TO PROVIDE NON-PARTISAN VOTING ASSISTANCE TO PRIMARY VOTERS 

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) is Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in conjunction with our partner organizations Black Youth Vote!Black Women’s RoundtableCommon Cause FloridaNew Florida Majority and State Voices Florida Table, will provide assistance to voters in Florida during their August 28 Primary.

Legal volunteers will staff the non-partisan Election Protection hotlines live 7am until 10pm EDT to answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Leading up to the primary, the hotlines will be monitored for voice messages.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 27, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) is Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live phone assistance to voters in Arizona during their August 28 Primary.

Legal volunteers will staff the non-partisan Election Protection hotlines live 5am until 8pm MST to answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Leading up to the primary, the hotlines will be monitored for voice messages.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 24, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) is Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live phone assistance to voters in Arizona during their August 28 Primary.

Legal volunteers will staff the non-partisan Election Protection hotlines live 5am until 8pm MST to answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Leading up to the primary, the hotlines will be monitored for voice messages.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 24, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration voted down a proposal to shutter 75% of the county’s polling places during the November election amid criticism that doing so would discriminate against African-Americans living there. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the  Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released the following statement:

“This is a victory for African American voters across Georgia who are too often subject to a relentless campaign of voter suppression.

“The defeat of this proposal also shows the power of resistance and the impact that we can have by leveraging our voices against injustice. We’re pleased that the Board has seen fit to bow both to needs of the electorate and the dictates of the law and reject this poorly conceived consolidation of polling places. The right to vote is the most sacred civil right in our democracy and we stand fully prepared to defend that right throughout the midterm election cycle.”

On Monday, voting rights groups sent a pre-suit demand letter to the Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration objecting to its proposal and urging the Board to abandon the plan or risk facing legal action in federal court. The demand letter was issued by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of the New Georgia Project, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has a long history of fighting voter suppression in Georgia including an attempt to relocate a polling site to a hostile location in Macon-Bibb County, a purge program in Hancock County, a discriminatory exact-match policy maintained by the Georgia Secretary of State, and more.

If prospective voters have any questions about the location of their polling place in Georgia or elsewhere, they may call the national, nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE to receive assistance.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 21, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) is Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live phone assistance to voters in Alaska and Wyoming today during their August 21 Primary.

Legal volunteers will staff the non-partisan Election Protection hotlines live 7am until 7pm MST to answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. For Alaska voters calling after 7pm MST, volunteers will respond to voters’ messages left on the hotline.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live starting on National Voter Registration Day until the November midterm election.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 20, 2018

National Voter Registration Act violations prevent eligible voters from receiving ballots

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2018

PHOENIX−Voting rights organizations filed a lawsuit against Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan on Saturday, nine months after notifying her office of significant federal voting rights violations.

The lawsuit, filed by the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, and Promise Arizona, details how Arizona has continued to engage in known violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a law Congress enacted in 1993 to increase the number of registered voters and maintain accurate, up-to-date voter registration rolls. The ACLU, the ACLU of Arizona, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are representing the plaintiff organizations.

“The National Voter Registration Act was meant to make it easier for voters to register and to stay registered to vote,” said Arusha Gordon, counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Voting Rights Project. “Arizona’s practices are antithetical to these goals. With this suit, we seek to make sure that Arizona voters who have moved since the last election, due to work, school, family or any other reason, will not be turned away at the polls.”

“We are asking the court to step in immediately and correct Secretary Reagan’s failures. Not doing so will impose unnecessary and legally prohibited burdens on voters,” said Sarah Brannon, a senior attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “We are asking the court to prevent the ongoing violations of the NVRA and protect the right to vote.”

Secretary Reagan is failing to ensure that Arizona voters’ addresses are updated in accordance with federal “Motor Voter” requirements. The NVRA requires states to update voters’ registration addresses when there is a driver’s license address change, unless the voter opts out of updating their voter registration address. This is not happening in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) regularly sends driver’s license address changes to Secretary Reagan’s agency, but the Secretary of State does not use this information to update voter registration records.

“A change of address for voter registration must occur automatically,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona. “Not doing so deprives qualified voters in Arizona of the voter registration services they are entitled to under federal law and can result in votes not being counted.”

For years, the Secretary of State has failed to use readily available address information from ADOT to keep Arizona’s voter rolls up to date and make sure Arizonans can exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said Stuart Naifeh, senior counsel at Demos. “Arizona’s systematic failure to follow federal law has resulted in thousands of ballots being thrown out. Secretary Reagan apparently has no difficulty using ADOT records to keep people off the voter rolls when they haven’t provided documentary proof of citizenship. The Secretary of State should use that same information to keep lawfully registered voters from falling off the rolls when they move, as the law demands.”

In November 2017, voting rights groups informed Secretary Reagan that these legal violations deny qualified citizens the right to vote and disproportionately harm voter participation by low-income Arizonans and people of color.

“It has been nearly 10 months since we sent a notice letter to Secretary Reagan, notifying her office of numerous NVRA violations,” said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona. “Secretary Reagan’s failure to remediate the ongoing violations demonstrates that she is unwilling to take action to protect the right to vote in upcoming elections. Problems with voter registration are a primary reason that people are unable to vote. These practices are doing nothing less than suppressing the right of people to participate in our democratic process.”

Failing to update voter address information leaves many voters at risk of disenfranchisement. Voters whose addresses are incorrect in the voter rolls may not receive an early ballot or may be forced to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. In Arizona, provisional ballots are not counted if they are cast out-of-precinct.

“Secretary Reagan’s failure amounts to voter disenfranchisement and we are particularly concerned about how this is impacting the Latino community,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. “The Secretary of State should aim to make voting more inclusive and accessible for all, and should never be dismissive of calls to protect the right to vote. Our community is eager to participate in elections and, because of Secretary Reagan’s actions, they now have to seek out voter registration materials and opportunities to make sure their voices are being counted, when those resources should have been provided by the Secretary of State.”

Arizona’s violations of federal law mean many qualified individuals will not vote in the 2018 election cycle. Failing to update voter registration addresses in accordance with the law has the potential to affect negatively a huge number of Arizonans. Almost 70 percent of Arizonans changed their residential address in the decade between 2000 and 2010, the second highest rate of any state. In 2016, approximately 75 percent of votes cast in Arizona were ballots received by mail.

In the suit, plaintiffs are asking the court to order the Secretary of State to count the federal election votes casts by the impacted registered voters regardless of where in Arizona they cast their ballots and to send out a mailer to all impacted registered voters informing them of the problem and the options for correcting their voter registration addresses.

The plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction briefing, filed Saturday, is available here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 20, 2018

Pre-Suit Demand Letter Issued by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on Behalf of Georgia Organizations to Randolph County Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, voting rights groups sent a pre-suit demand letter to the Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration objecting to a proposal to eliminate more than 75 percent of the county’s polling places and voting precincts prior to the November 2018 election, and urging the Board to abandon the plan or risk facing legal action in federal court. The demand letter was issued by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of the New Georgia Project, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.

The proposed consolidations would eliminate seven out of Randolph County’s nine voting precincts, including one in which nearly 100 percent of the voters are Black.  It would severely burden many low-income, minority residents, particularly those who live in rural areas, lack access to transportation, or work long or inflexible hours.  Several of the locations to be closed are ten miles away or further from the remaining locations, and there is no public transportation to them from outlying areas. The burden of these changes will be felt most acutely by Black voters, who are more than three times as likely as whites to lack access to a vehicle in Randolph County.  Most of the closed precincts include substantial numbers of Black voters, and Census data indicates roughly 60 percent of county residents are Black.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has been working to combat the proposed plan since it was publicly released in coordination with local partners, Georgia-based organizations, and affected voters and constituents.  In addition to sending today’s letter, it has provided assistance with coordinating the community response in the lead up to the Board of Elections’ public hearings last week, obtained key information about the changes via an open records request, and supported a petition drive intended to thwart the consolidations under state law.

“Randolph County’s proposal to shutter polling sites, concocted under a veil of secrecy close to a potentially historic election in Georgia, smacks of racially motivated voter suppression,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Closing more than 75 percent of the precincts in a majority-African American county will have an onerous effect on minorities and the poor, particularly those who lack access to transportation. Polling place closures are part of an old and familiar tactic used to disenfranchise African American communities. When communities expand their work to get out the vote efforts, recalcitrant officials intensify their voter suppression efforts.  The Board should abandon this proposal; otherwise, we are prepared to use every tool in our arsenal to fight back.”

“Closing numerous polling locations, in between a high-interest May primary and promises to be a high-interest general election in November of the same year is, on its face, disruptive,” said Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project.  “This proposal is also an attempt to suppress the votes of Randolph County’s citizens and must be stopped.”

“The Board of Elections should be focusing on making voting more accessible, not less,” said Phyllis Blake, president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP.  “The Board has cited accessibility issues at the soon-to-be-closed polling places as a concern, but it has not committed to making any of the necessary repairs. The focus should be on improving the condition of those locations, not closing them entirely and placing the burden on the voters.”

“Randolph County’s voters deserve better,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.  “They have spoken out loudly against this proposal, and the Board of Elections should heed their call to abandon it. It makes no sense to risk disenfranchising voters on the eve of this potentially historic election.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has a long history of fighting voter suppression in Georgia including an attempt to relocate a polling site to a hostile location in Macon-Bibb County, a purge program in Hancock County, a discriminatory exact-match policy maintained by the Georgia Secretary of State, and more.

If prospective voters have any questions about the location of their polling place in Georgia or elsewhere, they may call the national, nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE to receive assistance.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 12, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Will be Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live phone assistance to voters in Connecticut and Vermont during the August 14 Primary.

Lawyers will staff the non-partisan hotline live 6am until 9pm EDT. Election Protection volunteers can answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Prior to Primary Day, volunteers will respond to voters’ messages left on the hotline.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 12, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Will be Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live phone assistance to voters in Minnesota during the August 14 Primary.

Lawyers will staff the non-partisan hotline live 6am until 9pm EDT. Election Protection volunteers can answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Prior to Primary Day, volunteers will respond to voters’ messages left on the hotline.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints or ballot shortages, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 10, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Will be Live on Primary Day for Voter Assistance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in conjunction with our partners the League of Women Voters and the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, will provide live phone assistance to voters in Wisconsin during the August 14 Primary.

Lawyers will staff the state-wide, nonpartisan hotline live 6am until 9pm EDT. Election Protection volunteers can answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting. Prior to Primary Day, volunteers will respond to voters’ messages left on the hotline.

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

Election Protection works year-round, to help all American voters through field monitors, voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

###

About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition of more than 100 partners, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee; 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-YALLA-US (844- 925-5287) administered by the Arab American Institute – a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

AUGUST 3, 2018

AMID REPORTS OF MISLEADING TEXT MESSAGES,

ELECTION PROTECTION PROVIDING NON-PARTISAN VOTING ASSISTANCE TO OHIO-12 VOTERS 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now;  Live Assistance Provided on Special Election Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in cooperation with the ACLU Ohio, All Voting is Local, Common Cause Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition, is providing assistance for voters in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District for the August 7 Special Election.

On the eve of the election, voters are receiving text messages providing inaccurate information on last minute changes to polling place locations. Election Protection is urging anyone receiving such a message to not respond or click on any links. Instead, the messages should be reported to the Franklin County Board of Elections at 614-525-3100 and to the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.  Local voting rights groups are also calling on the Franklin County Board of Elections to conduct a deeper investigation into the matter.

“Anything that limits the ability of people to cast a ballot, particularly through the spread of misinformation, is unacceptable and must be reported,” said Catherine Turcer, Executive Director of Common Cause Ohio.

“Misinformation is not uncommon in elections, so voters should be proactive to protect their vote by verifying their registration and polling place with their local board of elections or the Secretary of State. It is also extremely important that voters report suspicious information to election officials so they may fully investigate who is spreading this information and ensure it does not confuse or deter other voters,” said Mike Brickner, Ohio State Director with All Voting is Local.

“Such underhanded tricks are always unacceptable, but especially at a time when the integrity of our  entire voting system is being called into question.  Voters deserve accurate information, so that everyone can access their constitutional right to the polls,” said Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick, PhD, Co-President of the League of Women Voters.

Voters in need of assistance can call these Election Protection Hotlines:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters who receive misinformation, face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise want to access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

On Tuesday, Election Protection voter hotlines will be answered live from 7am until 8pm EDT. Calls to the Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE number will be answered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Volunteers from All Voting is Local, Common Cause Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition will be on hand to help voters at the polls.

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

Media Note:  Voting rights and Election Protection spokespersons are available for interviews.  

Contact:

###

About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners – including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, – at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection, the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

 

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 6, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now for Live Assistance
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in conjunction with our partner the ACLU of Kansas, will provide live phone assistance to voters in Kansas during the August 7 Primary.
Lawyers will staff the state-wide, nonpartisan hotline live from 7am until 8pm EDT. Election Protection volunteers can answer questions and assist voters encountering problems voting.
The Election Protection hotlines are:
  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.
“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise seek information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,”
Election Protection works year-round, utilizing field monitors and voter education and an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 6, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Election Day
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in conjunction with our partner the ACLU of Michigan, will provide assistance for voters in Michigan during the August 7 Primary Day Elections.
Voter hotlines will be answered live from 7am until 9pm EDT. Election Protection volunteers can assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.
The Election Protection hotlines are:
  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.
“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise seek information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,”
Important Information for Michigan Voters
Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 6, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Election Day
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in conjunction with our partner the Advancement Project, will provide assistance for voters in Missouri during the August 7 Primary Day Elections.
Voter hotlines will be answered live 7 am until 9 pm EDT. Election Protection volunteers can assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.
The Election Protection hotlines are:
  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.
“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise need information to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,”
Important Information for Missouri Voters
  • Polling Hours: Polling hours are 6 AM to 7 PM CDT.
  • Early voting ends on August 6, 2018 at 5 PM CDT.
  • Check voter registration, poll location and hours at Missouri’s Voting Center page at https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri.
Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 3, 2018

AMID REPORTS OF MISLEADING TEXT MESSAGES,

ELECTION PROTECTION PROVIDING NON-PARTISAN VOTING ASSISTANCE TO OHIO-12 VOTERS 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now;  Live Assistance Provided on Special Election Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in cooperation with the ACLU Ohio, All Voting is Local, Common Cause Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition, is providing assistance for voters in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District for the August 7 Special Election.

On the eve of the election, voters are receiving text messages providing inaccurate information on last minute changes to polling place locations. Election Protection is urging anyone receiving such a message to not respond or click on any links. Instead, the messages should be reported to the Franklin County Board of Elections at 614-525-3100 and to the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.  Local voting rights groups are also calling on the Franklin County Board of Elections to conduct a deeper investigation into the matter.

“Anything that limits the ability of people to cast a ballot, particularly through the spread of misinformation, is unacceptable and must be reported,” said Catherine Turcer, Executive Director of Common Cause Ohio.

“Misinformation is not uncommon in elections, so voters should be proactive to protect their vote by verifying their registration and polling place with their local board of elections or the Secretary of State. It is also extremely important that voters report suspicious information to election officials so they may fully investigate who is spreading this information and ensure it does not confuse or deter other voters,” said Mike Brickner, Ohio State Director with All Voting is Local.

“Such underhanded tricks are always unacceptable, but especially at a time when the integrity of our  entire voting system is being called into question.  Voters deserve accurate information, so that everyone can access their constitutional right to the polls,” said Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick, PhD, Co-President of the League of Women Voters.

Voters in need of assistance can call these Election Protection Hotlines:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters who receive misinformation, face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise want to access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

On Tuesday, Election Protection voter hotlines will be answered live from 7am until 8pm EDT. Calls to the Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE number will be answered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Volunteers from All Voting is Local, Common Cause Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition will be on hand to help voters at the polls.

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

Media Note:  Voting rights and Election Protection spokespersons are available for interviews.  

Contact:

###

About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners – including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, – at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection, the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 31, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Election Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide assistance for voters in Tennessee during the August 2 Primary Day Elections.

Voter hotlines will be answered live from 7am until 8pm EDT. Election Protection volunteers can assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.

The Election Protection hotlines are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters who face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,”

Important Information for Tennessee Voters

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 19, 2018

Demand Issued by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Campaign Legal Center on Behalf of Georgia Organizations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On July 18, 2018, voting rights advocates sent a notice letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, advising him that the enactment and implementation of the voter registration provisions of Georgia Act 250 (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-220.1), which codified a ‘no match, no vote’ voter registration protocol, violate Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, and requesting that Secretary Kemp immediately cease enforcement of the Georgia law or risk facing a new legal challenge to the law in federal court.

Under the Georgia law, a voter registration application is flagged and placed in “pending” status if the information on their registration form does not exactly match information contained in the Department of Driver Services or Social Security Administration databases. The matching process also flags some U.S. citizens as non-citizens, even in cases where the applicants submit a copy of their U.S. naturalization form or other evidence of their U.S. citizenship with their voter registration applications.

If applicants do not cure the “no-match” result, they are removed from the registration rolls after 26 months.  The matching protocol has an extraordinarily high error rate, resulting in the unreasonable delay in the processing of voter registration applications and the risk that the application will be canceled after 26 months, resulting in the disenfranchisement of legitimate, voting-eligible Georgians.

Georgia Act 250’s voter registration protocol is similar to one that had been previously adopted administratively by Secretary of State Kemp and which was challenged in federal court by voting rights advocates in 2016. Despite the fact that the “no match, no vote” protocol had been shown to have a high error rate and a substantial, negative impact upon voting-eligible African American, Latino and Asian American Georgians, this discriminatory process was nevertheless codified into Georgia law with the passage of HB 268 in 2017.

“Our democracy depends on the ability of all voters to participate in the political process,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Georgia’s ‘no match, no vote’ policy has already disenfranchised tens of thousands of eligible voters and has had a particularly onerous effect on minorities and the poor.  The State should stop using this error-ridden and discriminatory practice immediately.  If not, we will leverage all of the tools available to us to combat voting discrimination and to achieve fairer and more democratic outcomes across our country.”

The NVRA compliance demand was issued by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Campaign Legal Center, with assistance by their pro bono counsel, the New York City office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, along with Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta and the Law Office of Bryan Sells. It was sent on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, ProGeorgia State Table, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, and New Georgia Project.

“Advancing Justice-Atlanta works tirelessly to encourage and empower members of our AAPI and immigrant communities to fully engage in the civic process,” said Phi Nguyen, litigation director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Inc. “We urge our leaders to also do their part to ensure that all citizens can exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

“For years, Georgia’s onerous system has disproportionately burdened minority citizens by making it more difficult to complete the voter registration process,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting at CLC. “It’s time to put an end to a system that is not used by most other states because of its discriminatory implementation and extraordinarily high error rate. No Georgians should be barred from participating in the democratic process due to Georgia’s exact match system any longer.”

If prospective applicants have any questions about the deadlines for registering to vote in Georgia, they may call the national, nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE for additional information.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 13, 2018

In Response to Demand Issued by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
along with of the Mississippi Center for Justice and the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter dated July 12, 2018, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office stated that the Mississippi Secretary of State will bring the state into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (52 U.S.C. § 20507 (“NVRA”) (52 U.S.C § 20507 “NVRA”) by allowing eligible Mississippians to register to vote up to thirty (30) days prior to all elections for federal offices, including runoff elections, in response to a June 22, 2018 demand for compliance issued to the Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law along with the Mississippi Center for Justice and the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP.
Previously, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office had taken the position that only Mississippians who registered to vote at least thirty days prior to the initial primary or special election would be eligible to vote in a runoff election when a candidate failed to receive a majority of the vote. This position is in conflict with Section 8 of the NVRA because that law prohibits states from requiring citizens to register more than thirty days prior to any election for federal offices – including runoff elections.
“By lifting unlawful and unnecessary barriers to registration, we make it easier for people to participate in the democratic process. Would-be voters in Mississippi were denied a full and fair opportunity to register and vote as required under the NVRA,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We are pleased that our action prompted the Mississippi Attorney General and Secretary of State to do the right things and modify their policies and practices as federal law requires. This action means that people across Mississippi will now have the full benefit of the registration period required by the NVRA in future elections for federal runoff elections.”
The NVRA compliance demand was issued by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, with assistance by its pro bono counsel, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP along with the Mississippi Center for Justice, and Carroll Rhodes, Esq., counsel for the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP.
“Artificial and unnecessarily restrictive barriers to the ballot box often dissuade and prevent eligible Mississippians from participating in our elections,” said Carroll Rhodes, counsel for the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP. “Our eligible members and all eligible Mississippians should ensure that they are registered to vote and take advantage of this change in the State’s voter registration policy if they are unable to register in time for a federal election that leads to a runoff election,” said Rhodes.
“We commend the State of Mississippi for recognizing that federal law prohibits states from setting voter-registration deadlines more than 30 days prior to any election for federal office, including a runoff,” said Ryan Phair, a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth. “The National Voter Registration Act protects and strengthens our democratic process, and compliance with its requirements is essential to ensure that all eligible citizens can exercise their right to vote.”
“We welcome Secretary of State Hosemann’s prompt action to cure Mississippi’s violation of the MVRA for registration in runoff elections,” noted Mississippi Center for Justice President and CEO Reilly Morse. “As always, we encourage all Mississippians to register and vote in every election.”
Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires states to ensure that any person can vote in an election for a federal office if he or she registers to vote at least 30 days before that election. The governing federal statute specifically defines “election” as including runoff elections. Mississippi law had been interpreted to not allow persons to vote in federal runoff elections if he or she had not registered in time for the first round of the election necessitating the runoff. This interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the federal law, and must give way to the controlling federal law.
If prospective applicants have any questions about the deadlines for registering to vote in Mississippi, they may call the national, nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE for additional information.
To read the demand for compliance letter written to Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, clickhere.
To read the response from the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 9, 2018

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Files Suit Claiming Mississippi Denies African American Voters

Equal Opportunity to Participate in Election of State Representative

Washington, DC — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Mississippi Center for Justice, and a team of other lawyers, today filed a federal court lawsuit seeking to redraw Mississippi State Senate District 22 prior to the 2019 election. The lawsuit contends that the boundary lines of District 22, which is located primarily in the Mississippi Delta, dilute African-American voting strength in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

African-Americans are under-represented in the Mississippi Senate, where they hold 25% of the seats (13 of 52) in a state that is at least 35% African-American in voting age population. The suit claims that while District 22 has a 50.8% African-American voting age population, District 22 elections since 2003 have consistently been won by white Republican Eugene “Buck” Clarke, who has defeated his mostly African-American opponents even though African-American voters generally support those opponents.

“Gerrymandering stands as one of the greatest threats to democracy today. The current districting plan in Mississippi’s State Senate effectively denies African American voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The people of Mississippi deserve a fair and equal democratic process. Through the courts, we are fighting to secure a fair state senate map that will provide long overdue relief to African Americans in Mississippi.”

“There will be a lot of focus on redistricting when election lines everywhere are redrawn after the 2020 census,” said Jackson civil rights attorney Rob McDuff, who is working with the Center on lawsuits regarding the right to vote. “But because there is a problem with District 22 that needs to be cured before the census and before the 2019 election, we are bringing this case now.”

According to the lawsuit, a combination of white bloc voting against African-American-supported candidates and lower African-American turnout stemming from socioeconomic disparities and historical discrimination have prevented African-American voters from electing candidates of their choice in District 22. The suit states that District 22 would have a higher African-American population if the legislature had not elongated the district by adding wealthy white neighborhoods in southern Madison County to the relatively poor African-American areas in the Delta that comprise much of the district.

The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), the Lawyers Committee, and McDuff are joined in the lawsuit by civil rights attorney Ellis Turnage of Cleveland, MS, and the Waters Kraus law firm of Dallas. “This is part of an effort by MCJ that will continue through the post-2020 redistricting process to insure that Mississippi elections lines are drawn fairly,” said the Mississippi Center for Justice President and CEO Reilly Morse.

To read the brief, click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 30, 2018

EDITORIAL AND OPINION WRITERS PRESS CALL 

Voting Rights in the Post-ShelbyWorld: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Reflections on its legacy, recent court rulings, and whether all have the ability to vote today

WHAT: This briefing, designed as background for Editorial Page and Opinion writers, dives into the legacy of the Voting Rights Act, the continuing legacy of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, and the increased importance of safeguarding the right to vote through litigation and Election Protection in the face of ongoing attempts at voter suppression. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 1 at 2:30 pm EDT

WHO:

  • Kristen Clarke: president and executive director of the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee). She has handled important voting rights cases such as Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, worked inside the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, and has worked through two decennial redistricting cycles.
  • Marcia Johnson-Blanco: co-director of the Voting Rights Project, Lawyers’ Committee manages its programs including leading Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection program, overseeing the work of the National Commission on voting rights, and ensuring minority participation in the redistricting process and ensuring those with felony convictions regain their right to vote.
  • Ezra Rosenberg: co-director of the Voting Rights Project, Lawyers’ Committee oversees all voting rights litigation, ranging from litigation to enforce the registration and anti-purge provisions of the National Voter Registration Act to case brought under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to stop suppressive tactics to racial gerrymander cases.

HOW:Please RSVPto Sue Dorfman, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law at [email protected] or call 202-662-8327.

Dial in information TBA.

WHY: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece federal legislation, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnsonon August 6, 1965. Intended to implement the protections of the 14thand 15thAmendments, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act remains one of the most potent weapons that racial and ethnic minorities possess to stop discrimination in voting.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 26, 2018

State granted injunctive relief extending voting by one hour to 9 pm EDT
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a Baltimore circuit court judge granted an injunction extending the voting deadline in three North Baltimore precincts following the filing of an emergency complaint. The suit alleged that dozens of voters were turned away early Tuesday morning because voting machines had not been set up at the Baltimore IT Academy, causing a delay of more than two hours.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP, and the law firm of Hogan Lovells US LLP filed the lawsuit and request for emergency injunctive relief, on behalf of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP and an affected voter.  The court granted the request, extending the voting deadline to 9 pm for voters in Ward 27, Precincts 28, 29, 35.  The Plaintiffsaccepted the State’s one hour extension after an initial request of two hours.
Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will continue to provide live assistance for voters on the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline for the additional hour to make sure all Maryland voters can have their voting concerns addressed.
President Gerald Stansbury of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP said of the Board’s decision, “These voters came out to vote and were unable to exercise their franchise. While we demanded that polls stay open this evening for an additional two hours to compensate for the hours lost, we are accepting the one hour concession. However, we plan to work with all parties to ensure this does not happen again in November. Voters depend on polls being open during the stated hours with all voting machines in working order. All voters must be able to vote during the scheduled hours; the failure to have functioning polling locations open on time can be discouraging and lead others from being able to vote.”
“The right to vote is precious, and it is unacceptable that so many Baltimore voters were barred from participating in this important election because a polling place was closed,” said John Powers, Voting Rights Counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee.  “We are pleased that the court granted the extension, and we encourage all voters in the affected area who have not yet cast a ballot to take advantage of the extended deadline.”
To read the injunction, click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 25, 2018

Election Protection to Provide Non-Partisan Voting Assistance to Voters During the Maryland Primary Elections – Including Those Impacted By Failure to Appear on Voting Rolls

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Election Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live assistance for voters in Maryland during the June 26 Primary Day Elections during polling hours 7am to 8pm. Election Protection volunteers will be available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.

Dedicated teams of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, will be available to take voters’ calls on the following Election Protection hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters across the country who seek to report complaints, face problems registering or voting, or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Important Information and Tips for Maryland Voters

  • Polling Hours: POLLS OPEN at 7 AM EDT and CLOSE at 8 PM EDT. Find your polling place.
  • Check Voter registration: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch.
  • The Maryland State Board of Elections is aware that approximately 18,700 voters who updated their registration information through the MVA or self-service kiosks between April 22, 2017 and June 5, 2018 did not have their information properly recorded — and has encouraged all impacted voters to vote provisional ballots. To read their statement, click here.
  • Assistance at the Polls: Under federal law, voters with a disability or have difficulty with English have the right to bring a person of their choice into the polls with them.
  • For more information about voting in Maryland, visit: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 25, 2018

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the formula used in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional.

Washington, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) issued the following statement today on the fifth anniversary of the landmark Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court 5-4 decision, which gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

“In the five years since the decision in Shelby, some of our worst fears have been realized. States have taken advantage of the leeway given to them to implement voting practices and procedures that bear disproportionately on the voting rights of minority populations. These range from restrictive voter registration procedures to polling place closures to purging of voter rolls to onerous voter identification requirements. And these are only the actions we know about. The loss of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act also meant the loss of notice of insidious acts of voter suppression and an opportunity to stop them before they took effect. Now, as much as ever, we need robust statutory protections of the right to vote.

“Today, we call on Congress to take overdue action to restore the Voting Rights Act, particularly in the wake of widespread voter suppression efforts that we have seen across the country.”

In order to ensure that all eligible voters are able to exercise their rights at the ballot box when faced with challenges to voting, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee, will have the 866-OUR VOTE (866-687-8686) Election Protection hotline live on all Primary Days and on Election Day in November. The hotline is available year round for voters to ask questions and to report suspected voter suppression activities.

For more information on Shelby, please click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 25, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Election Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live assistance will provide live assistance for voters in New York during the June 26 federal Primary Day Elections. Election Protection volunteers will be available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.

Dedicated teams of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, will be available to take voters’ calls on these hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters across the country who seek to report complaints, receive guidance if their name is not on the voter roll, or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Important Information and Tips for New York Voters

  • Polling Hours: In New York City and the counties of Dutchess, Erie, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester, POLLS OPEN at 6 AM and CLOSE at 9 PM. Find your polling place.
  • Polling Hours: In all other counties where there is a primary POLLS OPEN at 12 NOON and CLOSE at 9 PM. Find your polling place.
  • Assistance at the Polls: Under federal law, voters with a disability or have difficulty with English have the right to bring a person of their choice into the polls with them.
  • For more information about voting in New York, visit: https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingRegister.html

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.

###

About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners – including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, – at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection, the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 25, 2018

Toll-free hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live assistance for voters in Utah during the June 26 Primary Day Elections. Election Protection volunteers will be available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.

Dedicated teams of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, will be available to take voters’ calls on these hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters across the country who seek to report complaints, receive guidance if their name is not on the voter roll or have difficulty voting, or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Important Information and Tips for Oklahoma Voters

  • Polling Hours: Polls are open 7am to 7pm CDT.
  • Assistance at the Polls: Under federal law, voters with a disability or have difficulty with English have the right to bring a person of their choice into the polls with them.
  • For more information about voting in Oklahoma, visit: https://www.ok.gov/elections/

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions or concerns.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 25, 2018

866-OUR-VOTE Election Protection Hotline Live on Primary Day to Assist Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Lawand working in partnership with Common Cause Colorado, will provide live assistance for voters in Colorado during the June 26 Primary Day Elections. Election Protection volunteers will be available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.

Dedicated teams of trained volunteers will be available to take voters’ calls on these Election Protection hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by Common Cause Colorado; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters across the country who seek to report complaints, face problems registering or voting, or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Important Information and Tips for Colorado Voters

  • Polling Hours: Polls are open 7am to 7pm MDT.
  • New: Unaffiliated voters can cast votes in either the Democratic or Republican primaries.
  • Assistance at the Polls: Under federal law, voters who have a disability or have difficulty with English have the right to bring a person of their choice into the polls with them.
  • For more information about voting in Colorado and where to find your polling place, visit:  https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/vote/VoterHome.html?menuheaders=5

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions or concerns.

###

About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners – including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, – at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For mor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 25, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live assistance for voters in South Carolina during the June 26 Runoff Elections. Election Protection volunteers will be available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.

Dedicated teams of trained volunteers will be available to take voters’ calls on these Election Protection hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters across the country who seek to report complaints, face problems registering or voting, or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Important Information and Tips for South Carolina Voters

  • Polling Hours: Polls are open 7am to 7pm EDT.
  • Voters can check their voting registration information here.
  • Voters who voted in the June 12 Primaries are limited to voting in the same party’s runoff.  Voters who did not vote on June 12 can choose to vote in either party’s runoff.
  • Everyone who voted in the Republican Primary will have a runoff to vote in on June 26. This is because there is a statewide Republican Runoff (Governor and Attorney General).
  • Only some voters who voted in the Democratic Primary will have a runoff to vote in on June 26.  This is because there is no statewide Democratic Runoff.  Check the lists below to see how this affects each county.
  • Assistance at the Polls: Under federal law, voters who have a disability or have difficulty with English have the right to bring a person of their choice into the polls with them.
  • For general South Carolina voter information, visit: https://www.scvotes.org/south-carolina-voting-information-page
  • For more information about voting in the South Carolina runoffs, visit:https://www.scvotes.org/know-rules-voting-june-26-primary-runoffs

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions or concerns.

###

About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection, the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 25, 2018

Election Protection to Provide Non-Partisan Election Protection Assistance Hotlines to Help Voters Available In Multiple Languages

Toll-free hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live assistance for voters in Mississippi during the June 26 Runoff Elections. Election Protection volunteers will be available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise during the voting process.

Dedicated teams of trained volunteers will be available to take voters’ calls on these Election Protection hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all eligible voters across the country who seek to report complaints, face problems registering or voting, or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions or concerns.

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About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection, the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 11, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 11, 2018

Non-partisan Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Tuesday 6/12 Through Election Day

WHAT:  Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will have four Election Protection hotlines live on Primary Day during polling hours to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise in the voting process. Calls will be answered by lawyers and trained volunteers. Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.

HOTLINE NUMBERS866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

QUOTE: “In light of the most recent Supreme Court Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, et al decision concerning Ohio’s voter purge program, Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We want all voters to know there are resources they can turn to if they have questions or need assistance when voting. Voters are encouraged to report complaints or suspected voter suppression efforts in their communities to the Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline. ”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 7, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) issued a letter to Dean C. Logan, County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of Los Angeles County to express grave concerns and demand an explanation regarding the removal of 118,522 registered voters from the voter rolls for the California primary election on June 5, 2018.

“These kind of errors are untenable and should have no place in our democracy today,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We have grave concerns regarding the 118,522 impacted voters, including whether or not their provisional ballot will be counted in the final results of the primary election. In an era of malfeasance, hacking and systematic attempts to suppress the vote, we are not leaving anything to chance.  Through today’s action we are working to protect the integrity of future elections and fighting to restore the public’s confidence in the electoral process.”

“The denial of equal opportunity to vote for still unexplained reasons to over 100,000 registered voters in Los Angeles County is the early warning alert that something is seriously amiss when it comes to operation of our election system and the availability of an adequate Plan B,” said Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law. “The impact on the outcome of our elections is scarcely less consequential whether disenfranchisement comes from indifference or incompetence from within or from Russian hackers.”

The Election Protection voter hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) – led by the Lawyers’ Committee – was taking live calls during the primary election, providing comprehensive support to callers form cost-to-cost reporting issues at the polls.  Following up on the calls received from voters whose names were missing from the rolls in LA County, the Lawyers’ Committee contacted the County Clerk of LA County’s office on June 6, 2018, and was informed that the office could not provide any additional information beyond what was in its brief Press Release. 

The letter to Dean C. Logan, County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of Los Angeles County requests the following:

(1)   How many of the provisional ballots submitted by voters who were improperly excluded from the rolls were counted; how many were not; and the reasons any of them were not counted?

(2)   What process is your office using to ensure that every eligible individual’s provisional ballot is counted?

(3)   What affirmative steps are your office taking to reduce the burdens on these voters in getting their provisional ballots counted and learning the status of their ballot?

(4)   Have impacted voters been informed about the actions they must take, if any, in order to have their provisional ballots counted?

(5)   Have impacted voters been informed that they have been restored to the rolls?

(6)   What instructions were provided to poll workers regarding use of provisional ballots prior to Election Day? What instructions were provided to poll workers following disclosure of the exclusion of voters? Provide copies of any written instructions or revised protocols disseminated to voters on Election Day?

(7)   Were any news alerts issued on Election Day? If so, where were these placed and in what languages?  What other steps were taken to communicate with impacted voters on Election Day?

(8)   If counting of provisional ballots remains incomplete, what is your office’s time frame for completing a full count? What number of ballots were counted?

Read the full letter here

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 4, 2018

Tens of thousands may now be enfranchised that were denied because of unnecessary bureaucracy

PHOENIX– Today, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law reached a settlement agreementwith the Secretary of State of Arizona and the Maricopa County Recorder over a lawsuit on behalf of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Arizona Students’ Association (ASA) challenging the state’s overly burdensome voter registration process. When the lawsuit was filed, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes chose not to take a position on the merits of the lawsuit. The Secretary and Recorder have agreed to nearly all of the requested changes.

Attorneys anticipate this will result in the enfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters in Arizona whose voter registrations were rejected because of unnecessary bureaucracy. Spencer G. Scharff, Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, and Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. served as private co-counsel in the case.

“Barriers to registration stand as one of the greatest threats to democracy today. As a result of our litigation, Arizona is taking steps to ensure that Arizona’s voter registration process is open and more equitable for all Arizona residents,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Ensuring equal access to the voting box for eligible voters is critical in maintaining an open and fair democratic process and this settlement helps ensure that more voters will have their voices heard this election cycle.”

Going forward, Arizona will treat all registrants the same regardless of whether they use the state or federal form, easing a registration process that was one of the most complicated in the country. The state will register all voters for federal elections. Although Arizona will continue to enforce its documentary proof of citizenship requirement for state elections, it will check the motor vehicles database for citizenship documentation before limiting voters to federal-only elections. This will ensure that voters will not be turned away from any election when the state already has the information it says it needs.

“Secretary Reagan’s agreement to these commonsense changes is an affirmation that democracy works best when all citizens can vote without barriers,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting at CLC. “Our lawsuit will successfully protect eligible Arizonans from being unfairly prevented from registering to vote and participating in federal elections because of unnecessary requirements. We are pleased that the bureaucratic nightmare in Arizona is coming to an end.”

“This is a victory for Arizona students,” said Shayna Stevens, outgoing executive director of the Arizona Students’ Association, a student-led nonprofit organization that conducts outreach to promote student voting. “For lawmakers to hear the student voice, students must have easy access to voting. We are thrilled that students will no longer be required to fill out duplicate forms or dig up their original birth certificates and passports, which made access to the ballot difficult for no reason.”

“This settlement is a key victory in the fight for fair and equal access to elections across the country,” said Andrew Schwartz, a partner in Shute Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, co-counsel with CLC.

After learning from state advocates that Arizona’s system had disenfranchised at least 26,000 eligible voters in Maricopa County alone, CLC and its partners filed a legal complaint on behalf LULAC and ASA with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on Nov. 7, 2017 challenging the state’s dual registration system as an undue burden on the right to vote and the Constitution’s promise of equal protection. Read CLC’s case pagefor background information.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 4, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When voters head to the polls for primary day elections, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Lawfour Election Protection hotlines will be live on primary day during polling hours to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise in the early voting process.

Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all voters and would-be voters across the country who seek to report complaints or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Dedicated teams of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, will be available to take voters’ calls on these hotlines : 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multipleAsian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 4, 2018

Problems at the Polls?

Non-partisan Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now Through Election Day

WHAT:  Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will have four Election Protection hotlines live on primary day during polling hours to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise in the early voting process.

WHOElection Protectionhelps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Dedicated teams of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, will be available to take voters’ calls on these hotlines.

HOT LINE NUMBERS866-OUR-VOTE (English)– administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English)– administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (multipleAsian languages/English)– administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English)– administered by the Arab American Institute.

QUOTE:“Election Protectionstands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “ Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline. Our goal is to ensure all voters know there are resources they can turn to if they have any questions or need assistance when voting. ”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2018

Contact: [email protected]; 202-662-8317       

Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) available to support voters in Arkansas May 22 primary

Hotline is a resource for voters who have questions or have problems voting during Tuesday’s primary election

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  – The nationwide non-partisan Election Protection Coalition, led by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in partnership with ACLU Arkansas, is working to protect the rights of all Arkansas voters. Election Protection urges voters to call 866-OUR-VOTE if they need assistance voting in Tuesday’s primary, or to report instances of election misadministration, intimidation, or discrimination.

Trained volunteers will answer the Election Protection hotline live on Tuesday, May 22 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CST to assist any voter with questions or any voter who encounters problems at the polls. Areas of assistance include confirming voter registration status and polling place locations, and support in response to any voter suppression activities or problems voting.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline.”

“We want to ensure that all Arkansas voters have the information and support they need to vote. We are happy to partner with the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition and encourage voters to use 866-OUR-VOTE for help and to report problems or issues to the hotline,“ said Holly Dickson of ACLU Arkansas.

In 2016, Election Protection helped Arkansas voters who required assistance in voting and who reported problems, including improper voter ID implementation, long wait times, and equipment malfunction.

Polls are open in Arkansas from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CST

 

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Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection offers a suite of hotlines to assist voters: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 1-844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners, Religious Action Center, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2018

CONTACT: [email protected], 202-662-8317

Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) available to support voters in Georgia May 22 primary

Hotline is a resource for voters who have questions or have problems voting during Tuesday’s primary election

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  – The nationwide non-partisan Election Protection Coalition, led by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in partnership with the Georgia Coalition for People’s Agenda, is working to protect the rights of all Georgia voters. Election Protection urges voters to call 866-OUR-VOTE if they need assistance voting in Tuesday’s primary, or to report instances of election misadministration, intimidation, or discrimination.

Trained volunteers will answer the Election Protection hotline live on Tuesday, May 22 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT to assist any voter with questions or any voter who encounters problems at the polls. Areas of assistance include confirming voter registration status and polling place locations, and support in response to any voter suppression activities or problems voting.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline. Our goal is serve as a resource for all Georgia voters if they have any questions or need assistance when voting.”

“The Coalition for the People’s Agenda has a long history of protecting the right to vote and ensuring voters are able to cast their ballots without problems. Nonpartisan election protection volunteers are there to assist voters when asked and to alert election officials to problems that may be happening at their assigned polling locations. We believe our democracy is strengthened by having all voters involved in the political process voting for candidates and issues of their choice” stated Helen Butler, Executive Director

In 2016, Election Protection helped Georgia voters who required assistance in voting and who reported problems including precinct closures, registration, absentee ballot issues, long wait times, and equipment malfunction.

Polls are open in Georgia from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT

 

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Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection offers a suite of hotlines to assist voters: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 1-844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners, Religious Action Center, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: [email protected], 202-662-8317        

Election Protection to Help Voters for the May 22, 2018 Primary Election in Kentucky


Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Assistance Available on Primary Election Day

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Kentucky voters will head out to the polls to vote in the state primary elections. Election Protection (EP) – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) – will ensure that all eligible Kentucky voters have an equal opportunity to the ballot box, provide voters with information, guidance and assistance, and respond to reports of voter suppression or obstacles to voting. The 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline will be available to answer calls live on primary Election Day from 6:00 am to 8:00pm EST.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline. Our goal is serve as a resource for all Kentucky voters if they have any questions or need assistance when voting.”

Election Protection is a year-round non-partisan resource for voters, through its website www.866ourvote.org and through its 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, which receives and responds to messages within two business days if not answered live during elections. During nationwide elections, including the 2018 midterms, Election Protection expands to support voters during voter registration, early voting and voting on Election Day through its network of more than 200 coalition partners and thousands of trained voter assistance volunteers who staff multi-language hotlines and who deploy to polling sites in key states around the country.

 

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About Election Protection

 Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection offers a suite of hotlines to assist voters: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners, Religious Action Center, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

 

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Media Note: Voting rights and Election Protection spokespersons are available for media interviews to offer Election Day observations. Please contact [email protected], 202-662-8317.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAY 14, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Assistance Available on Primary Election Day

WASHINGTON, DC  — On Tuesday, May 15, 2018  Nebraska voters will head out to the polls to vote in the state primary elections. Election Protection(EP) – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) – in partnership with Civic Nebraska, will ensure that all eligible Nebraska voters have an equal opportunity to the ballot box, provide voters with information, guidance and assistance, and respond to reports of voter suppression or obstacles to voting.

The 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline will be available to answer calls live on primary Election Day from 8:00am to 8:00pm CST and 7:00am to 7:00pm MST.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,”said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline. Our goal is to ensure that all Nebraska voters know that there is a resource they can turn to if they have any questions or need assistance when voting.”

Election Protection is a year-round non-partisan resource for voters, through its websitewww.866ourvote.organd through its 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, which receives and responds to messages within two business days if not answered live during elections. During nationwide elections, including the 2018 midterms, Election Protection expands to support voters during voter registration, early voting and voting on election day through its network of more than 200 coalition partners and thousands of trained voter assistance volunteers who staff multi-language hotlines and who deploy to polling sites in key states around the country.

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Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection offers a suite of hotlines to assist voters: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners,  Religious Action Center,  Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAY 7, 2018

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Assistance Available on Primary Election Day

WASHINGTON, DC  — On Tuesday, May 8, 2018  Ohio voters will head out to the polls to vote in the state primary elections. Election Protection(EP) – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) – will ensure that all eligible Ohio voters have an equal opportunity to the ballot box, provide voters with information, guidance and assistance, and respond to reports of voter suppression or obstacles to voting. The 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline will be available to answer calls live on primary Election Day from 6:30am to 8:00pm EDT.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,”said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline. Our goal is to ensure that all Ohio voters know that there is a resource they can turn to if they have any questions or need assistance when voting.”

Election Protection’s toll-free hotlines, 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for English, and 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund for bilingual assistance(English/Spanish), are available live on election day for any voter who needs information, assistance or guidance in understanding their rights. Additional language support is available through voicemail systemsat 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. All messages will be answered as soon as possible.

Election Protection is a year-round non-partisan resource for voters, through its website www.866ourvote.organd through its 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, which receives and responds to messages within two business days if not answered live during elections. During nationwide elections, including the 2018 midterms, Election Protection expands to support voters during voter registration, early voting and voting on election day through its network of more than 200 coalition partners and thousands of trained voter assistance volunteers who staff multi-language hotlines and who deploy to polling sites in key states around the country.

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Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners,  Religious Action Center,  Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 24, 2018

Amid Reports of Ongoing Voter Suppression Across the Country, Lawyers’ Committee Hotline Activated To Assist Voters in New York’s special elections
Washington, D.C. –The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is expanding its work to protect the rights of all eligible voters.  Through the use of the Election Protection hotline, the Lawyers’ Committee isinviting concerned citizens to call 866-OUR-VOTE for help voting in Tuesday’s special election and to report instances of intimidation and discrimination.
Trained volunteers answer the Election Protection hotline throughout the year to take questions and complaints from voters and would-be voters.866-OUR-VOTE is available to accept complaints regarding this strict special election. Through 866-OUR-VOTE, voters can submit complaints regarding the special election, confirm voter registration status and polling place locations, and report any voter suppression activities.
“We encourage the public to contact 866-OUR-VOTE to obtain the information necessary to  participate in Tuesday’s special election. Voters can also report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline.  We know that voting discrimination and voter suppression are the real threats to American democracy and we will continue to fight to ensure that all New Yorkers enjoy equal access to the ballot box,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Staffed with trained volunteers, Election Protection’s 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live Tuesday, April 24th from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT to assist any voter who experiences intimidation at the polls or needs information to understand their rights.
Polls are open in New York from 6am to 9pm EDT.

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

PRESS RELEASES - 2017

Hotline Updates

AUGUST 3, 2018

AMID REPORTS OF MISLEADING TEXT MESSAGES,

ELECTION PROTECTION PROVIDING NON-PARTISAN VOTING ASSISTANCE TO OHIO-12 VOTERS 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now;  Live Assistance Provided on Special Election Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in cooperation with the ACLU Ohio, All Voting is Local, Common Cause Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition, is providing assistance for voters in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District for the August 7 Special Election.

On the eve of the election, voters are receiving text messages providing inaccurate information on last minute changes to polling place locations. Election Protection is urging anyone receiving such a message to not respond or click on any links. Instead, the messages should be reported to the Franklin County Board of Elections at 614-525-3100 and to the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.  Local voting rights groups are also calling on the Franklin County Board of Elections to conduct a deeper investigation into the matter.

“Anything that limits the ability of people to cast a ballot, particularly through the spread of misinformation, is unacceptable and must be reported,” said Catherine Turcer, Executive Director of Common Cause Ohio.

“Misinformation is not uncommon in elections, so voters should be proactive to protect their vote by verifying their registration and polling place with their local board of elections or the Secretary of State. It is also extremely important that voters report suspicious information to election officials so they may fully investigate who is spreading this information and ensure it does not confuse or deter other voters,” said Mike Brickner, Ohio State Director with All Voting is Local.

“Such underhanded tricks are always unacceptable, but especially at a time when the integrity of our  entire voting system is being called into question.  Voters deserve accurate information, so that everyone can access their constitutional right to the polls,” said Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick, PhD, Co-President of the League of Women Voters.

Voters in need of assistance can call these Election Protection Hotlines:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered  by the NALEO Educational Fund
  • 888-API-VOTE (multiple Asian languages/English) – administered  by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute.

“The Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all registered voters who receive misinformation, face problems registering or voting, seek to report complaints, or otherwise want to access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

On Tuesday, Election Protection voter hotlines will be answered live from 7am until 8pm EDT. Calls to the Election Protection 866-OUR-VOTE number will be answered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Volunteers from All Voting is Local, Common Cause Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Voting Rights Coalition will be on hand to help voters at the polls.

Election Protection works year-round to help all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to voters’ questions and concerns.

Media Note:  Voting rights and Election Protection spokespersons are available for interviews.  

Contact:

###

About Election Protection: Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners – including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, – at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection, the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

 

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2018

Contact: [email protected]; 202-662-8317       

Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) available to support voters in Arkansas May 22 primary

Hotline is a resource for voters who have questions or have problems voting during Tuesday’s primary election

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  – The nationwide non-partisan Election Protection Coalition, led by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in partnership with ACLU Arkansas, is working to protect the rights of all Arkansas voters. Election Protection urges voters to call 866-OUR-VOTE if they need assistance voting in Tuesday’s primary, or to report instances of election misadministration, intimidation, or discrimination.

Trained volunteers will answer the Election Protection hotline live on Tuesday, May 22 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CST to assist any voter with questions or any voter who encounters problems at the polls. Areas of assistance include confirming voter registration status and polling place locations, and support in response to any voter suppression activities or problems voting.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline.”

“We want to ensure that all Arkansas voters have the information and support they need to vote. We are happy to partner with the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition and encourage voters to use 866-OUR-VOTE for help and to report problems or issues to the hotline,“ said Holly Dickson of ACLU Arkansas.

In 2016, Election Protection helped Arkansas voters who required assistance in voting and who reported problems, including improper voter ID implementation, long wait times, and equipment malfunction.

Polls are open in Arkansas from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CST

 

###

 

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection offers a suite of hotlines to assist voters: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 1-844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners, Religious Action Center, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2018

CONTACT: [email protected], 202-662-8317

Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) available to support voters in Georgia May 22 primary

Hotline is a resource for voters who have questions or have problems voting during Tuesday’s primary election

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  – The nationwide non-partisan Election Protection Coalition, led by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in partnership with the Georgia Coalition for People’s Agenda, is working to protect the rights of all Georgia voters. Election Protection urges voters to call 866-OUR-VOTE if they need assistance voting in Tuesday’s primary, or to report instances of election misadministration, intimidation, or discrimination.

Trained volunteers will answer the Election Protection hotline live on Tuesday, May 22 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT to assist any voter with questions or any voter who encounters problems at the polls. Areas of assistance include confirming voter registration status and polling place locations, and support in response to any voter suppression activities or problems voting.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline. Our goal is serve as a resource for all Georgia voters if they have any questions or need assistance when voting.”

“The Coalition for the People’s Agenda has a long history of protecting the right to vote and ensuring voters are able to cast their ballots without problems. Nonpartisan election protection volunteers are there to assist voters when asked and to alert election officials to problems that may be happening at their assigned polling locations. We believe our democracy is strengthened by having all voters involved in the political process voting for candidates and issues of their choice” stated Helen Butler, Executive Director

In 2016, Election Protection helped Georgia voters who required assistance in voting and who reported problems including precinct closures, registration, absentee ballot issues, long wait times, and equipment malfunction.

Polls are open in Georgia from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT

 

###

 

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection offers a suite of hotlines to assist voters: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 1-844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners, Religious Action Center, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: [email protected], 202-662-8317        

Election Protection to Help Voters for the May 22, 2018 Primary Election in Kentucky


Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Assistance Available on Primary Election Day

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Kentucky voters will head out to the polls to vote in the state primary elections. Election Protection (EP) – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) – will ensure that all eligible Kentucky voters have an equal opportunity to the ballot box, provide voters with information, guidance and assistance, and respond to reports of voter suppression or obstacles to voting. The 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline will be available to answer calls live on primary Election Day from 6:00 am to 8:00pm EST.

“Election Protection stands ready to help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Voters can report complaints or any suspicious activity to the Election Protection hotline. Our goal is serve as a resource for all Kentucky voters if they have any questions or need assistance when voting.”

Election Protection is a year-round non-partisan resource for voters, through its website www.866ourvote.org and through its 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, which receives and responds to messages within two business days if not answered live during elections. During nationwide elections, including the 2018 midterms, Election Protection expands to support voters during voter registration, early voting and voting on Election Day through its network of more than 200 coalition partners and thousands of trained voter assistance volunteers who staff multi-language hotlines and who deploy to polling sites in key states around the country.

 

###

About Election Protection

 Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters – including traditionally disenfranchised groups – gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. Election Protection offers a suite of hotlines to assist voters: 866-OUR-VOTE (English) – administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish/English) – administered by the NALEO Educational Fund; 888-API-VOTE (Multiple Asian languages/English) – administered by APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC; and 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English) – administered by the Arab American Institute. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Initiative, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Sojourners, Religious Action Center, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation, as well as labor unions—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide and year round. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

 

###

Media Note: Voting rights and Election Protection spokespersons are available for media interviews to offer Election Day observations. Please contact [email protected], 202-662-8317.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 8, 2017

Hotline Led by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Fielded Calls from Voters Across Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law,  provided live assistance to over 1000 voters through its 866-OUR-VOTE hotline. Voters reported complaints, some of which impacted systemic problems, or sought assistance with voting. Since 2001, Election Protection has been the go-to-source for voters seeking assistance with navigating the voting process. The volume of calls into the hotline today suggested increases in voter turnout relative to comparable election periods from years prior and expanded interest in local electoral contests such as District Attorney races.

“Much work remains to be done to strengthen and improve elections in our country. Our 2017 Election Protection revealed problems such as voter intimidation, racist campaign appeals, the proliferation of false information regarding voting on social media, robo calls that attempted to disenfranchise voters through misleading and false information, poll sites that opened late or were insufficiently equipped with provisional ballots and voter books, among other issues,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We are heartened that voters and would-be voters across the country reported complaints and took the opportunity to access information needed to exercise the most sacred right in our democracy. Following the election, we urge local and state election officials to undertake action to strengthen and improve access for all voters.”

The Lawyers’ Committee led-effort identified a number of problems including robo calls imparting false information to voters; poll workers providing false information regarding voter eligibility; police presence outside of polling sites, the proliferation of false information regarding the voting process on social media, and other deceptive and suppressive tactics as reported by voters around the country. Specific examples include:

  • Voter Intimidation in the form of police officers at polling places throughout St. Louis, Missouri where a ballot measure concerning funding for law enforcement was on the ballot. Specifically, Proposition P would raise the sale tax in order to produce about $20 million in tax revenue, with most funds being allocated for raises and hiring for the St. Louis Police Department. The presence of officers at polling sites was reported throughout the day and comes on the heels of tensions between the minority and law enforcement community.
  • Poll workers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania provided false information to Independent voters, instructing them they had to be affiliated with a party to vote in the municipal election. This information was false. Election Protection staff members intervened and the local elections supervisor corrected the misconduct of poll workers.
  • Polling places in Hudson County, New Jersey did not have the required voter books for a number of districts. Voters were turned away and told to return at a later time. Other polling sites in New Jersey opened late or turned voters away because there were no provisional ballots on site.
  • 866-OUR-VOTE was the first to receive reports at the outset of the Virginia election regarding robo calls targeting voters in the Prince William area. The calls provided false information indicating that voters’ polling sites had been changed. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is examining these robo calls to determine if they violate state or federal laws, and encouraging the FCC to investigate.
  • Throughout the day, false information regarding the voting process was circulated over social media platforms such as Twitter. Accounts spread false information indicating that voters could text their votes or otherwise indicated that the day for voting had changed. These messages remained online for hours before being removed and filtered by Twitter. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law continued to identify these messages on social media throughout Election night.

In every election cycle, Election Protection has to confront significant barriers to voter participation. Based on the coalition’s ongoing work and today’s pertinent voting rights news, Election Protection has identified the aforementioned issues as significant concerns for future elections.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

Voters In 25 States Will Go To The Polls On November 7th To Cast Ballots In Local, Statewide Elections

Washington, D.C. – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, will provide live assistance for voters across the country on Election Day this year.

On Tuesday, November 7th, Election Protection volunteers will be available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise in the voting process.  Voters may call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) toll-free from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST with any questions or issues that may arise. Spanish-speaking voters may seek bilingual assistance through the 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) hotline, also from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST.

“The right to vote is the most important right in our democracy.  This year, critical elections are taking place at the local, state and federal level all across the country.  Through vigilance, we can ensure that all eligible voters are able to freely cast their ballots and have their voices heard in the 2017 election cycle,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all voters and would-be voters across the country who seek to report complaints or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

Election Protection – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – has trained volunteers available to answer questions on Election Day.  Election Protection also utilizes field monitors and voter education, and relies on its expansive network of national partners and state advocates, to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.  In 2016 alone, Election Protection received over 120,000 calls from voters from around the country, and the hotline will continue to serve as a resource for voters year-round.

The 866-OUR-VOTE Election Protection hotline will be answered live on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST.  Voters are encouraged to call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for voting-related questions or problems.

 

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About Election Protection:

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.  The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide.  For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 1, 2017

Toll-Free Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now Through Election Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With Election Day in many states less than one week away, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, is ramping up its efforts to safeguard voting rights across the country.

Multiple states have attempted to impose severe restrictions on the right to vote.  While courts have batted down many of these efforts to limit the franchise, the confusion surrounding recent rulings and the lack of accurate information could disrupt voting this election cycle.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is spearheading Election Protection’s efforts to protect voters this election cycle, using hotlines, field monitors, and voter education, as well as its expansive network of national partners and state advocates, to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.

“The right to vote is the most important right in our democracy.  This year, critical elections are taking place at the local, state and federal level all across the country.  Through vigilance, we can ensure that all eligible voters are able to freely cast their ballots and have their voices heard in the 2017 election cycle,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all voters and would-be voters across the country who seek to report complaints or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community.”

During the early vote period and on Election Day, which is Tuesday, November 7, Election Protection volunteers are available to assist voters with issues, problems, or questions that arise in the early voting process.  Voters may call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) toll-free with any questions or issues that may arise.  Spanish-speaking voters may seek bilingual assistance through the 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682)hotline.  For assistance in several Asian languages, voters can leave a voicemail at 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) and a trained volunteer will return their call as soon as possible.

Voters are encouraged to call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for voting-related questions or problems.

 

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

 

About Election Protection:

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.  The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide.  For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Today, Election Protection – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – will join hundreds of organizations across the country in a national effort to register people to vote for National Voter Registration Day.

To support national, state and local partners’ efforts to register voters, the nationwide nonpartisan Election Protection (EP) hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683), will be answering calls in real time from 9:00am to 7:00pm EDT, verifying voters’ registration status and helping them navigate the voter registration process. In addition to registration-related assistance, our trained volunteers will be available to answer a wide range of voting questions from voter ID, to language assistance resources.

“The importance of voter registration cannot be overstated.  In the face of an administration determined to take away the right to vote for millions of Americans, the work of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to inform citizens of their voting rights and to protect those rights is even more pressing,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “An informed electorate gives way to increased participation.  This National Voter Registration Day, we encourage the public to contact 866-OUR-VOTE with any voting-related questions, and above all, to register to vote so that your voice can be heard.” 

While trained volunteers are available tonswer questions on National Voter Registration Day and on Election Day, Election Protection works year-round to support efforts to expand the franchise.  Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.  In 2016 alone, Election Protection received over 118,000 calls from voters from around the country.

The 866-OUR-VOTE Election Protection hotline will be answered live today, September 26, 2017 from 9:00 AM-7:00 PM EDT. Voters are encouraged to call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for voting-related questions or problems.  For assistance in Spanish, we invite callers to dial 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682); for assistance in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Urdu, Hindi, or Bengali, dial 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683).

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

 

About Election Protection:

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.  The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide.  For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

Elections in Senate District 40, House District 116 and

the Village of Virginia Gardens Scheduled for Tuesday, September 26th

Washington, D.C. – Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma on Miami-Dade County and its impact upon the County’s voters, elections in Senate District 40, House District 116 and the Village of Virginia Gardens will go forward as scheduled on September 26, 2017.

These elections will go forward despite an appeal to the Governor, state and local election officials by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Common Cause Florida, State Voices Florida and the League of Women Voters Florida, to postpone the elections due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on Miami-Dade County voters.

“It is incredibly disappointing that Governor Scott did not see fit to delay the Special Election in Miami-Dade County,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “By choosing to delay some elections and not others, Governor Scott will deny minority voters who have been uniquely impacted by the destruction from Hurricane Irma, the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.  We encourage eligible voters seeking to exercise their right to vote to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) with any voting-related questions ahead of next week’s election.”

A major disaster declaration was issued last week for Miami-Dade and Lee counties, among others, due to the severe and widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.  Over 32,000 Miami-Dade utility customers remain without power and are struggling to resume their normal lives in the aftermath of this storm.  Many residents who evacuated in advance of the hurricane have not returned to their homes.  While Governor Scott postponed elections in Lee County from September 26th to October 3rd, he did not provide the same relief for Miami-Dade voters.

Election Protection – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – has trained staff available to answer questions on Election Day.  Election Protection also utilizes field monitors and voter education, and relies on its expansive network of national partners and state advocates, to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.  In 2016 alone, Election Protection received over 120,000 calls from voters from around the country, and the hotline will continue to serve as a resource for voters year-round.

The 1-866-OUR-VOTE Election Protection hotline will be answered live on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 from 9:00 AM-7:00 PM EDT. The VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) will offer assistance to Spanish language speakers and will be answered live on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 from 7:00 AM-10:00 pm EDT. The 1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-273-8683) hotline will offer Asian language speakers support in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali.

Voters are encouraged to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for voting-related questions or problems.

For more information about the work of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to help Florida voters in the wake of Hurricane Irma, click here.

 

Information for Miami-Dade County Florida Voters in Senate District 40 and House District 116 Ahead of Next Week’s Special Elections

The deadline to request a Vote-By-Mail (absentee voting) ballot is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 20th.  Any registered voter eligible to vote may request a vote by mail ballot online (http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/voter-information.asp), or by filling out this form: http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/library/forms/vote-by-mail-ballot-request-en-sp.pdf, and sending it by email, fax, telephone, or in writing:

Email[email protected]
Fax: 305-499-8401
Telephone: 305-499-8444
TTY Number: 305-499-8480

Mail:
Supervisor of Elections
Attn: Vote by Mail Ballot Section
PO BOX 521250
MIAMI, FL 33152

Additionally, voters may present a picture identification with a signature in person at the Elections Department, or authorize a designee to pick up the ballot on the day prior to Election Day. Some voters may obtain a Vote-By-Mail ballot on Election Day in the event of an emergency or certain special circumstances. More information is available at: http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/vote-by-mail.asp.

Early Voting for State Senate District 40 and House District 116 will take place as follows: Early Voting began on Saturday 9/16 and will continue until Sunday 9/24 from 8AM to 4PM on Sunday and Saturday and 8AM to 6PM on Monday to Friday at ANY of the following three locations:

(1) West Dade Regional Library – 305-553-1134
9445 SW 24th Street/Coral Way, Miami, FL 33165

(2) Coral Reef Branch Library – 305-233-8324
9211 SW 152nd Street/Coral Reef Drive, Miami, FL 33157

(3) Kendale Lakes Branch Library – 305-388-0326
15205 SW 88th Street, Miami, FL 33196

In Person Voting in the Special Elections will take place on Tuesday, September 26th. Polling places will be open from 7:00AM to 7:00 PM. There have been changes to the Polling Places for at least fifteen (15) Precincts. Please check your polling place for these special elections by calling 311, or 1-305-499-8683 if you are outside the County when you dial the call, or by visiting the Miami-Dade County Elections Voter Information web page at: http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/voter-information.asp.

Voters are reminded to check their registration information and confirm whether they are registered to vote in Miami-Dade County by visiting the Miami-Dade County Elections Voter Information web page at: http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/voter-information.asp.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About Election Protection:

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.  The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide.  For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

Legal Action Updates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DECEMBER 4, 2017

New Orleans, LA – Civil rights and voting rights groups will be arguing before a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday in an ongoing effort to protect Texas voters from an unnecessary and illegal photo ID law. Both a previous panel and the full Fifth Circuit bench have already declared that the law, originally passed in 2011, had the effect of discriminating against African American and Latino voters in the state.

Tuesday’s argument will cover whether the state’s original law (SB 14), was enacted with the intent to discriminate against minority voters. Judges will hear from both sides on whether a new photo ID law passed by the Texas legislature this year (SB 5) can go into effect given its similarities to the original law.

The hearing comes after a 2-1 decision by a different panel of Fifth Circuit judges in September which left in place an interim fix for the troublesome law during elections this year. Unless revisited, the ruling means that the interim remedy can be lifted and SB 5 could go into effect in 2018.

Five court decisions over five years have ruled that the that the original voter ID law, as written, violates the Voting Rights Act because it makes it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote. This includes the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the original law ran afoul of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 2, among other things, prohibits “voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, [or] color.”

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or MALC, brought a challenge to the Texas law in September 2013. That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the various plaintiff groups include the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has the opportunity to issue the death knell for the latest voter ID law in Texas, and we hope that they do so,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Lower courts have repeatedly recognized that a State cannot escape the consequences of its pernicious conduct without completely eliminating all vestiges of discrimination. That includes Texas, where African-American and Latino voters, who have been the targets of discriminatory photo ID laws.”

“Tomorrow’s argument and the ultimate decision in this case will give us a true indication about where our Democracy is going,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “Will all of our citizens be recognized in our democracy or will we permit color coding of the level of voting rights that Texans are entitled to? This battle has gone on for far too long. The 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment is around the corner, hopefully it still has true meaning.”

“Instances of voter impersonation are so rare that you have a better chance of getting hit by lightning. Still, the Texas legislature passed another strict photo ID law that will leave many Texans behind. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and we can’t allow folks to mess with it to get a partisan advantage,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, MALC Chairman.

“The Texas legislature intentionally passed a law to keep certain voters from having their voice heard at the polls,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “It is long past time for the state to fix this, and S.B. 5 doesn’t do that.”

“Texas cannot allow this new bill, which a court ruled perpetuates many of the problems with the old bill, to come into effect in January,” said Neil Steiner of Dechert LLP, pro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “We urge the Fifth Circuit to protect access to the ballot box.”

Background

Plaintiffs have fought Texas’ voter ID law in court for years, arguing that it creates unnecessary obstacles for eligible voters. A federal court in Washington, D.C. first blocked the law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that it would have a disproportionate negative impact on minority citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separate case) gutted core provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would implement the voter ID law.

In July 2016, the full Fifth Circuit court of Appeals issued a decision finding the bill has a racially discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because it disproportionately diminishes African Americans’ and Latinos’ ability to participate in the political process. The appellate court also reversed and remanded the district court’s discriminatory intent finding for further review.

In February 2017, the U.S. District Court heard arguments to determine whether the state intentionally discriminated against minority voters when it passed the original law in 2011. The hearing had previously been scheduled for late-January, but was postponed on Inauguration Day at the request of the Trump administration. The DOJ formally filed to withdraw its intent claim February 27, after five years of fighting the discriminatory purpose of the law alongside civil rights organizations. The court granted DOJ’s withdrawal request on April 3, but made clear that it still considered the question of whether the law was passed with a discriminatory purpose to be a live issue, regardless of the new bill.

Read more on the case here.

###

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 9, 2017

Response to New Lawsuit Filed by Commissioner Matthew Dunlap

Against Trump’s Election Integrity Commission

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, Matthew Dunlap, Secretary of State of Maine and member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity filed suit against Trump’s administration alleging violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Dunlap alleges that despite diligent efforts to gain access, he has been, and continues to be, blocked from receiving Commission documents necessary to carry out his responsibilities. Dunlap also notes that the Commission risks becoming exactly the kind of one-sided partisan undertaking the Federal Advisory Committee Act was designed to prevent.

“Today’s lawsuit is highly unusual and virtually unprecedented, only further underscoring the chaotic and dysfunctional nature of the Election Integrity Commission,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “That its own members are in the dark about the way that the Commission operates and deliberates makes clear that this Commission is no more than a tool to advance this administration’s voter suppression agenda. As we continue our ongoing litigation against the administration, we look forward to watching Secretary Dunlap’s suit which reveals additional evidence of the Commission’s unlawfulness and illegitimacy.”

A copy of Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s lawsuit can be found here.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: ongoing and active litigation in the D.C. District Court, letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; and requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

Press Contact: [email protected]

202-662-8327

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 25, 2017

Consent Decree Requires NYC Board of Elections To Restore The Rights Of Unlawfully Purged Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 25, 2017 — Pending approval by the court, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Latino Justice PRLDEF reached a settlement in a voting rights case that was filed on the eve of the November 2016 election on behalf of voters who were illegally purged from the registration rolls in New York City.  The pending settlement restores voters to the rolls and puts in place a comprehensive remedial program to prevent the improper purging of voters in future elections.

“This important victory sets forth a course correction in New York City, where more than 100,000 voters were improperly purged from the rolls,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Across the country, we are seeing officials purge legitimately registered voters from the rolls despite the prohibitions contained in the National Voter Registration Act.  We will continue to fight against these policies to ensure that the rights of voters are preserved.”

The settlement is in response to a lawsuit filed in November 2016 by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with partners LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm of Dechert LLP.  The lawsuit, filed on behalf of individual plaintiffs and Common Cause New York against the New York City Board of Elections (NYC BOE), sought to restore the voting rights of New York City voters improperly removed from the rolls in violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.  This included the more than 117,000 registered voters removed from the voter registration rolls prior to the April 2016 primary election by the NYC BOE’s Brooklyn Borough Office.

This is a true victory for all New York City voters, including Latinx voters in Brooklyn, who first raised concerns with Latino Justice PRLDEF about the potentially discriminatory effect of the voter purges in early 2016,” said Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “The consent decree and settlement now provide necessary oversight, including standard procedures and protocols to prevent unlawful removals, and critical enforcement remedies to ensure that all eligible voters, including Latinx voters, are equally able to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

“Today’s settlement represents an important victory for the future of New York City elections.  New Yorkers deserve a system that lives up to their appropriately high expectations, and Common Cause/NY is here to make sure that’s what they get.  Voting should be an easily accessible right instead of subject to unnecessary obstacles,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

“We are thrilled to have partnered with Common Cause, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and LatinoJustice PRLDEF in achieving this tremendous victory for all voters in New York City, and look forward to continuing to work with the pro bono to ensure the voting rights of all eligible citizens across the country,” said Neil A. Steiner, partner, Dechert LLP

In the settlement agreement, the NYC BOE conceded that the removal of the named plaintiffs, as well as members of Common Cause New York, violated federal and state law.  The NYC BOE agreed to reinstate all voters that have been improperly removed from the rolls and to adopt policies preventing any future improper purges from occurring.  Finally, the NYC BOE agreed to:

  • Place the NYC BOE under a consent decree that will last at least through the November 2020 election.
  • Adopt detailed procedures to ensure that eligible voters are not designated for removal in error, identify procedures used for reinstating improperly removed voters, and produce monthly and annual reports identifying the voters who are being removed the rolls or otherwise subjected to list maintenance.
  • Develop a centralized process allowing the NYC BOE to review voter registration data from borough offices, adopt a training program for list maintenance, and update training manuals and materials.
  • Conduct an annual audit of list maintenance procedures, and permit the New York Attorney General’s office to conduct semi-annual audits.
  • Other enforcement remedies, such as allowing Plaintiffs the ability to object to Board rules or regulations related to list maintenance that fails to ensure compliance with federal law.

As a result of the Lawyers’ Committee and Latino Justice PRLDEF lawsuit, filed five days before the November 2016 election, the NYC BOE previously consented to provide various forms of notice to poll workers and voters for the November 2016 election.  The NYC BOE also agreed to send absentee ballots to individual plaintiffs who had been improperly purged from the registration list.

A copy of the settlement is available online.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About LatinoJustice PRLDEF:

LatinoJustice PRLDEF, originally established as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) in 1972, is one of the foremost national nonprofit civil rights legal defense and education funds working to advance, promote, and protect the legal rights of Latina/os throughout the nation. Our work is focused on addressing systemic discrimination and ensuring equal access to justice in the advancement of voting rights, housing rights, educational equity, immigrant rights, language access rights, employment rights, and workplace justice, seeking to address all forms of discriminatory bias that adversely impact Latina/os.  For more information on LatinoJustice, please visit: www.latinojustice.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 25, 2017

Following New Revelations, FOIA Requests Sent To DHS, Social Security Administration, & General Services Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 25, 2017 — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law this week issued requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to three federal agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, and the General Services Administration, seeking communications between those agencies and the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The FOIA requests follow the Lawyers’ Committee’s obtaining a court-ordered list of documents, which the Commission has refused to disclose to the public.  This list indicates that Commission members have communicated with the Department of Homeland Security concerning potential collaboration between the Commission and DHS, that Commission members have indicated their interest in examining Social Security Administration records, and that the General Services Commission has had substantive communications with Commission members, including communications concerning appointment of members.

The Lawyers’ Committee, aided by pro bono counsel, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP, sued the Commission, in order to compel the Commission to comply with the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires presidential commissions to disclose their substantive communications to the public.  The Lawyers’ Commission has also issued FOIA requests to the Department of Justice, seeking communications between DOJ and the Commission.

“The lack of transparency of this Commission is ominous,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee.  “Just this week we have seen two members of the Commission themselves demand documents from the Commission, because they feel frozen out of the Commission’s work.  We must subject this rogue Commission to the strict scrutiny required by law.  Fortunately, FOIA provides us with an important tool to effect transparency.”

The FOIA requests are available online.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 18, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and its pro bono counsel Hogan Lovells US LLP, and the Law Office of Bryan L. Sells, LLC., announced a major victory Wednesday related to its lawsuit challenging a Georgia law that cuts off voter registration for federal run-off elections two months earlier than guaranteed under federal law.  Under a consent order entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Tuesday, the state cannot prescribe a voter registration deadline in any federal election, including all future federal runoffs, that is longer than the deadline provided under state law and in no case longer than 30 days before an election.

“This consent agreement ensures that eligible Georgians will not be unfairly cut off from registering to vote and participating in federal runoff elections because of an arbitrary state voter registration deadline that violates federal law,” said Julie Houk, senior special counsel in the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Voter registration should not be impeded by a deadline that serves no purpose other than to disenfranchise eligible Georgians. With the consent agreement reached today, we have taken down one troubling method of vote suppression.”

“It is very gratifying that the state has recognized that federal law requires keeping the voter registration rolls open until 30 days before any federal election,” said Ira Feinberg, a partner at Hogan Lovells.  “Federal and state laws ought to encourage all eligible voters to register and vote, not impose arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions on voter participation.”

“This is a step forward for all Georgia voters, who will now have more opportunity to participate in important runoff elections,” said Bryan L. Sells, who served as local counsel in the case.

The Lawyers’ Committee and its partners filed a lawsuit in April, ahead of the special runoff election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, challenging the state’s registration deadline for the federal runoff election. May, the Honorable Timothy Batten, Sr., United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, issued a preliminary injunction in the case, concluding that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 takes precedence over conflicting state laws when conducting federal elections.  As a result of the deadline being extended, nearly 8,000 new voters were able to register to participate in the June 20thspecial election.

Plaintiffs in the case are the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Inc., the Georgia NAACP, Third Sector Development, Inc. (parent of the New Georgia Project), and ProGeorgia State Table, Inc., all organizations that devote considerable resources to registering voters, particularly minority citizens, and Jill Boyd Myers, an affected voter who moved into the Sixth Congressional District shortly after registration closed in March.

The Georgia case is part of the Lawyers’ Committee’s ongoing efforts to combat voting discrimination and voter suppression across the country.  In the past year and a half, the Lawyer’s Committee has filed close to 18 voting rights lawsuits across the country – more than the U.S. Department of Justice.

A copy of the settlement is available online.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 3, 2017

Lawsuit By Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Yields Index Of Electronic Communications Exposing Coordination By Most Partisan Members Of Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity recently released records of its communications in response to litigation brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  These records, available online, underscore the partisan nature of the Commission led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  Records indicate that Kobach communicated exclusively with partisan allies regarding the Commission’s work, to the exclusion of other Commissioners.  The communications released late last week also make available to the public the most information yet regarding the Commission established by President Trump to support his unfounded claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

“The information released by the so-called Commission on Election Integrity as a result of our lawsuit paints an incomplete but alarming record about the Commission’s work and intentions.  For example, it appears that known vote-suppressors Kris Kobach, J. Christian Adams, and Hans von Spakovsky, worked together without the input of other commissioners to develop the unprecedented June 28th letter to state election officials seeking vast amounts of personal voter data.  Email communications with the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security also suggest the Commission appears directed at facilitating Secretary Kobach’s dangerous agenda of comparing personal voter information with inaccurate databases to bolster his unfounded claim of widespread voter fraud to support the enactment of suppressive laws,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Clarke added: “The American people deserve to know the full story behind this Commission.  With the voting rights of millions of Americans at stake, we will continue the fight to ensure full transparency with respect to this so-called Commission’s activities.  The release of these new materials further underscores the dangerous agenda of this Commission.”

Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), presidential commissions are obligated to operate in a transparent manner, yet the Kobach Commission has fallen short of that requirement.  Court filings by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law previously revealed that Commissioners were communicating on private email accounts rather than using federal government-issued accounts in violation of the Presidential Records Act.  Now, in providing a catalogue of communications to the D.C. District Court as part of the lawsuit brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, it appears that the Commission failed to provide any records of text messages or a complete record of staff communications regarding the Commission’s work.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Commission.  This includes filing litigation that remains active in the D.C. District Court seeking for the Administration’s compliance with federal transparency requirements pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); launching a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); issuing letters to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for private voter data; and filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

 

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 3, 2017

The Lawyers’ Committee filed an Amicus Brief in the Landmark Redistricting Case

Washington, D.C. – Today, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, delivered remarks at the Rally to End Partisan Gerrymandering in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford. The Lawyers’ Committee filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief in this complicated case challenging the 2011 Wisconsin State Assembly redistricting plan, which brings to the forefront important questions regarding electoral map making and the ability of voters to have an influence in their representation.  In Wisconsin, the redistricting map was struck down by a three-judge federal court panel for imposing “burdens on the representational rights of Democratic voters” in gerrymandered districts.  While the Supreme Court has ruled that racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional, it has not provided clear guidance regarding partisan gerrymandering.

Clarke, who attended today’s hearing, made the following statement:

“While some of the Justices expressed concern about the floodgates of litigation opening, other Justices were focused on the measurable threat presented by gerrymandering and its impact on the integrity of American democracy.  It is time for the Court to act now and rule unequivocally that cases of extreme partisan gerrymandering are subject to judicial review.  Gill v. Whitford is a clear example of an electoral map drawn by one party in control of its state legislature in a way that maximizes its partisan advantage.  The extreme partisanship at issue in Gill v. Whitford presents strong facts for the Court to provide rules that can help guide the efforts of lawmakers.  This case is particularly important as a ruling may provide needed clarity for lawmakers as they prepare for the 2020 redistricting cycle.”

In considering a remedy to address partisan gerrymandering, the Lawyers’ Committee filed an amicus brief. The brief, filed with the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, highlights a racial and partisan gerrymandering case filed by the Lawyers’ Committee this year in Georgia.  In that case, plaintiffs claim that the redrawing of lines for Georgia House of Representatives Districts 105 and 111, in 2015, was done with a racially discriminatory purpose to favor the election of white incumbents.  In considering a remedy for partisan gerrymandering, the Lawyers’ Committee brief urges the Supreme Court to adopt a standard applicable to partisan gerrymandering sufficiently flexible so as to apply to cases like the Georgia case.

Click here to read the Gill v. Whitford amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

 The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and partners filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prohibits states from using a person’s failure to vote in a single election as a trigger for removing voters from the rolls.  The brief was filed last week with pro bono counsel Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, as well partners including Rock the Vote, Nuns on the Bus of Ohio, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and the Center for Media and Democracy.

The brief in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, an important case to be argued on November 8th, asserts that the NVRA was designed to prohibit aggressive voter purges like the one used in Ohio in which election officials targeted voters for removal from the registration rolls based on their failure to vote “frequently” enough.  Such a process threatens to disenfranchise millions of eligible Americans who choose not to vote in a particular election.

“The National Voter Registration Act was enacted to encourage voter participation and strengthen our democracy.  Aggressive voter purges like the one carried out by Ohio strip away the rights of registered voters and stand in clear violation of the NVRA,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “While we remain disappointed that the U.S. Department of Justice, once again, chose to reverse its position in another important civil rights case, we are confident the justices will recognize that Ohio’s voter purge violates federal law.”

“We are pleased to assist the coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee that seeks to end Ohio’s draconian voter purge system,” said Michael Keats, partner at Stroock & Stoock & Lavan LLP in New York.  “Ohio treats the mere failure to vote in a single election as a triggering event for removing registered votes from the voter rolls.  That practice clearly violates the NVRA’s express prohibition against removing registrants based solely on their failure to vote.”

Last month the U.S. Justice Department filed a brief in which it reversed the Department’s previous position in the case and opened the door for purge programs across the nation. In its brief, the Justice Department indicates that it has “now concluded that the NVRA does not prohibit a State from using nonvoting as the basis for sending a Section 20507(d)(2) notice.”

However, the NVRA was designed to increase voter registration and turnout rates, specifically in communities of color.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law brief notes that racial minorities are disproportionately affected under Ohio’s removal process, especially after lower turnout midterm elections.  In 2014, 67 percent of registered non-Hispanic whites cast a ballot compared to 63 percent of registered African Americans, 56 percent of Asians or Pacific Islanders, and 53 percent of Latinos.

“Congress was keenly aware that the failure to vote is not a reliable indicator whether a registered voter has moved, and for that reason expressly prohibited States from purging voters due to a failure to vote,” the brief states.  “Congress thus squarely answered the question of whether the method utilized in Ohio’s Supplemental Process is a legitimate ‘reasonable effort’ for the maintenance of accurate voter registration rolls: it is not.”

A link to the brief can be found here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Three Judges Ruled Interim Remedy Remains in Place While Court Reviews District Ruling Barring New ID Law

New Orleans, LA – Civil rights and voting rights groups filed a motion on Friday asking for the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the merits of Texas’ appeal from a lower court ruling that the state’s voter ID law was passed with the intent to discriminate against African Americans and Latinos in their exercise of their right to vote. The groups also asked the full Fifth Circuit to rehear Texas’ motion for a stay of the order of the district court’s injunction against Texas that was granted last week by a three-judge panel of the court.

The panel decided Tuesday in a 2-1 decision to leave in place an interim fix for Texas’ discriminatory voter ID law during elections this November and stay an August 23 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, which had barred the state from enforcing its new voter ID law (SB 5) on the grounds that it perpetuated discriminatory features of the state’s original 2011 law (SB 14). The panel’s decision means that the interim remedy would be lifted and SB 5 could go into effect in 2018.

Circuit Judge James E. Graves, Jr., dissented, denying the motion in its entirety and arguing, among other things, that “the state has not shown that it will suffer an irreparable injury in the absence of a stay.”

Five court decisions over five years have ruled that the that the original law, as written, violates the Voting Rights Act because it makes it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote. This includes the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the original law ran afoul of Section 2 of the VRA and sent the case back to Judge Ramos to determine whether the legislature intentionally discriminated in passing the law. She sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that lawmakers discriminated on purpose.

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or MALC, brought a new challenge to the Texas law in September 2013. That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the various plaintiff groups include the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“Texas’ voter ID laws have been struck down multiple times,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “We know this new law did not fix the issues with the old one. Any law that’s built on a discriminatory foundation like this one will be discriminatory in application. It’s disappointing that come January Texans could have a tougher time at the polls.”

“The new bill pushed by the Texas Legislature failed to address findings of intentional discrimination and arbitrarily limits the types of photo IDs required to vote. When it comes to safeguarding such a fundamental right in our democracy, we cannot yield,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, Chairman of MALC.

“More than a dozen judges over a span of years have ruled that Texas’ old voter ID law is discriminatory. It’s disheartening that Texas voters are still waiting for permanent relief,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. 

“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has the opportunity to issue the death knell for the latest voter ID law in Texas, and we hope that they do so,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Lower courts have repeatedly recognized that a State cannot escape the consequences of its pernicious conduct without completely eliminating all vestiges of discrimination. That includes Texas, where African-American and Latino voters, who have been the targets of discriminatory photo ID laws. Voters who seek information on the current ID requirements that apply in Texas can contact the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Election Protection program at 866-OUR-VOTE.”

“Texas cannot continue to allow its discriminatory voter ID bills to affect people at the polls,” said Amy Rudd of Dechert LLP, pro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “We hope the Fifth Circuit will act swiftly to ensure that all voters in the next election get access to the polls.”

Background

Plaintiffs have been fighting Texas’ voter ID law in court for years, arguing that it creates unnecessary obstacles for eligible voters. A federal court in Washington, D.C. first blocked the law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that it would have a disproportionate negative impact on minority citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separate case) gutted core provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would implement the voter ID law.

In July 2016, the full Fifth Circuit court of Appeals issued a decision finding the bill has a racially discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because it disproportionately diminishes African Americans’ and Latinos’ ability to participate in the political process. The appellate court also reversed and remanded the district court’s discriminatory intent finding for further review.

In February 2017, the U.S. District Court heard arguments to determine whether the state intentionally discriminated against minority voters when it passed the original law in 2011. The hearing had previously been scheduled for late-January, but was postponed on Inauguration Day at the request of the Trump administration. The DOJ formally filed to withdraw its intent claim February 27, after five years of fighting the discriminatory purpose of the law alongside civil rights organizations. The court granted DOJ’s withdrawal request on April 3, but made clear that it still considered the question of whether the law was passed with a discriminatory purpose to be a live issue, regardless of the new bill.

Read more on the case here.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 7, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to litigation brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Wednesday released its agenda for next week’s public meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire.  The Commission was created by President Trump to support baseless claims of voter fraud, and the lineup of panelists for next week’s meeting reveals a stacked agenda that lacks racial, gender, or ideological diversity.  In fact, every one of the ten panelists called to speak is a white male and many are among the nation’s most vocal voter suppression advocates.

“By stacking the deck with an all-white and male cast of panelists, the Commission has created an echo chamber to support Kris Kobach’s baseless claims of voter fraud,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said.  “The American people deserve to know the full story behind this Commission, not just what Kris Kobach’s allies will present next week in New Hampshire.  That is why we requested a full account of the electronic communications among commissioners and staff, including communications shared over private email.  We will continue to use the courts as a place to resist this Administration’s shameful and unlawful attempts to promote voter suppression on a national scale.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Commission.  This includes filing litigation in the D.C. District Court demanding the Commission operate in a transparent manner pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); launching a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); sending lettersto Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESEPTEMBER 6, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), together with LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm of Dechert LLP, filed suit in federal court in New York on Wednesday on behalf of Common Cause New York to restore the voting rights of millions of New Yorkers ahead of the 2018 election.

The suit against the New York State Board of Elections alleges that certain eligible but “inactive” voters are improperly removed from poll books throughout New York State in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).  This causes the disenfranchisement of New Yorkers who are incorrectly told by poll workers that they are not eligible to vote or forced to vote an affidavit ballot rather than a regular ballot.  The NVRA, however, precludes removal of eligible voters from the voting rolls unless they fail to respond to a postcard from election officials seeking to verify their address and also fail to vote in two consecutive federal election cycles.

“New York’s outdated policies disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible voters in clear violation of the National Voter Registration Act,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Our democracy works when every eligible voter can exercise his or her fundamental right and cast a ballot that counts. Our litigation provides yet another unfortunate example of how New York’s voting laws and procedures are antiquated and stand in desperate need of reform.”

In just the April 2016 primary election alone, more than 44,000 Brooklyn voters were inappropriately excluded from Election Day poll books because they had been incorrectly designated as “inactive.”  At the time of the primary, millions of inactive voters were not listed in poll books in New York City and throughout the State of New York.  Millions more voters will face the same situation in the 2018 midterm elections if their rights are not restored.

“This suit seeks to ensure that all eligible voters in New York State, including Latino voters, are able to exercise their fundamental right to vote without being unlawfully disenfranchised, and seeks to ensure that New York State remains in full compliance with federal voting rights requirements,” said Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram, Associate Counsel with LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“Although New York claims to be one of the most progressive states in the country, it has a history of disenfranchising voters. Common Cause/NY and our tens of thousands of members believe that voting is a key right for Americans, not a privilege for the few.  Purging eligible voters from voter rolls is a clear violation of the National Voter Registration Act—we trust the courts will see it that way, too,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

“Federal law guarantees the right of qualified voters to vote in federal elections,” said Neil Steiner, a partner at Dechert, the pro bono law firm partnering with the Lawyers Committee and LatinoJustice in bringing this case.  “It is critical that all eligible New York voters have an opportunity to cast their ballot and participate in our democracy.”

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.  The lawsuit will seek relief for the 2018 and all future federal election cycles.

To see full complaint, click here.

About the Lawyers’ Committee

 

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 31, 2017

MONTGOMERY, AL – Today, a federal district court judge denied the State of Alabama’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the method of electing judges to Alabama’s appeals courts violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All 19 of Alabama’s appellate judges are white. In the history of Alabama, only two African Americans have won an election to statewide office. Every other black statewide candidate has been defeated by a white candidate. Alabama’s appellate judges have been all-white for 16 years.

“The district court’s decision recognizes the potency of Section 2 as a weapon to battle racial discrimination in all sectors of state government,” said Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We will now continue to aggressively litigate this case to achieve a remedy that gives African American voters a real opportunity to elect members to these courts which play such important parts in their lives.”

“The Alabama NAACP is elated that the court has ruled in favor of the people to deny Alabama’s motion to dismiss this case,” said Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP. “We will continue to fight to ensure that African Americans are treated equally under the law and have the ability to elect judges of their choosing.”

The Alabama Supreme Court, and two intermediate appeals courts – the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of Civil Appeals – elect their judges via statewide contests. Because whites outnumber African Americans in the State, and because whites and African Americans consistently prefer different candidates, white-preferred judges virtually always win. Plaintiffs in this case, including the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and four individual Black voters, allege that this method of electing judges unlawfully dilutes Black votes in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Plaintiffs assert that electing judges by districts, just as the State does with members of its legislature and Board of Education, would provide African Americans with the equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

In today’s opinion, W. Keith Watkins, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, a George W. Bush appointee, rejected all of Alabama’s arguments to dismiss the case. Chief Judge Watkins noted critical differences between Voting Rights Act challenges to the method of electing trial judges, who can act unilaterally, and appellate judges, who decide cases in panels. He also held that Plaintiffs have standing to bring this suit and that sovereign immunity does not immunize the State.

Plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee, in partnership with James Blacksher and Edward Still, two long-time Alabama civil rights attorneys, Montgomery-based attorney J. Mitch McGuire, and pro bono counsel Crowell & Moring LLP.

The suit is part of the Lawyers’ Committee’s national initiative to bring state courts into compliance with the Voting Rights Act and promote judicial diversity. The Lawyers’ Committee is litigating a suit in Texas alleging that the statewide method of electing its high court judges unlawfully dilutes Latino votes.

A link to the opinion can be found here.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 24, 2017

Lawsuit Challenged Discriminatory Voting System That Denied African-American Voters a Fair Opportunity to Elect Candidates of Choice in Jones County for More than Two Decades

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), with the law firms of Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP (Cleary Gottlieb), and Patterson Harkavy LLP announced a settlement the federal voting rights lawsuit filed on behalf of African American voters in Jones County, North Carolina. Filed in February, the lawsuit alleged that the method of electing the County Board of Commissioners—the five-member body that makes critical and wide-ranging decisions impacting Jones County residents—diluted the voting strength of African-American voters, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This case was the first case filed under the Voting Rights Act in the nation in 2017.

 “This important victory ensures that African-American voters in Jones County will have an opportunity elect representatives of their choice,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “For over 20 years, the Board of Commissioners could willfully ignore the needs or concerns of nearly a third of the Jones County community. The Voting Rights Act continues to be a powerful tool to safeguard the rights of African-American voters in Jones County and beyond”

The District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina approved the consent judgment and decree, which will replace the at-large method used to elect the Board with a system of single-member districts.

Due to racially polarized voting in Jones County, no African-American candidate has been elected to the Jones County Board of Commissioners since 1994. White voters consistently vote as a bloc to defeat candidates supported by the Black community. The lawsuit alleged that the lack of African-American representation resulted in “systemic neglect” of the needs and concerns of African Americans in the county.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Jones County will move to a single-member district system that will provide African American voters a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.  In addition, the county will add two seats to the Board of Commissioners – increasing the number of representatives from five to seven members. Two of the seven members will be elected from districts in which African Americans will comprise a majority.

“This case illustrates the importance of representation,” said Jonathan Blackman, Partner at Cleary Gottlieb. “We are pleased to have been able to help in bringing about a result that gives African-American citizens of Jones County an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice for their County government. Going forward, all citizens of the County will benefit from this change.”

“We are glad that the system for electing Jones County commissioners is now fair for all citizens, black and white,” said Burton Craige, a Raleigh lawyer with the civil rights firm Patterson Harkavy, LLP.

This case is part of the Lawyers’ Committee’s ongoing efforts to combat voting discrimination and voter suppression across the country.  In the past year and a half, the Lawyer’s Committee has filed close to 18 voting rights lawsuits across the country – more than the U.S. Department of Justice and virtually any other organization.  This suit marks resolution of the very first Voting Rights Act case filed in 2017.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 23, 2017

Corpus Christi, TX – A federal judge ruled today that Texas’ new voter ID law (SB 5) is discriminatory and does not sufficiently cure the discriminatory effects of the 2011 voter ID law (SB 14), which the court previously ruled was passed with an intent to discriminate against Black and Latino voters. The judge issued an order, permanently enjoining Texas from enforcing both the old and new laws. The ruling is a major victory for civil rights groups and voting advocates who have been fighting the strict bill for a year.

Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos affirmed that the old bill violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. She permanently blocked enforcement of SB 14’s voter ID provisions and said language in SB 5, passed this summer, “perpetuates” the “discriminatory features” of the old law and is “tainted” by the same discriminatory purpose. Judge Ramos noted many problems with SB 5, including that it intimidated voters who lacked the IDs by subjecting them to the possible penalty of perjury if they signed a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment, stating that they were unable to get the ID. And, she found that the new law does not fund education and training needed to make people aware of how they are able to vote if they do not have the IDs.

Judge Ramos also ruled that the Court would address at a later date whether Texas will be subject to relief under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, which, if granted, would require the state to get approval from the Department of Justice for laws relating to voting.

Fourteen judges in five opinions over four years have ruled that the original law, as written, violates the Voting Rights Act because it makes it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote. In 2014, Ramos found that 608,000 registered voters did not have the required photo ID, including a disproportionate number of minorities. She ruled again in April 2017 that the state intended to discriminate when it passed its original law.

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or MALC, challenged the Texas law in September 2013. That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the various plaintiff groups include the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“Once again, a federal court has shut down a discriminatory voter ID law in Texas. Judge Ramos’s decision recognizes that a State cannot escape the consequences of its pernicious conduct without completely eliminating all vestiges of discrimination,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “African-American and Latino voters will now be able to vote in Texas without any of the suppressive effects of Texas’s ill-conceived and unnecessary photo ID law.”

“I applaud the judge for following the Voting Rights Act and once more ruling that it protects the rights of minorities like it does for others,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “The judge’s opinion just goes to show that you can’t put a dress on a pig, take it to the ball, and claim that your date is Cinderella.”

“As we warned, the new bill pushed by the Texas Legislature completely failed to address findings of intentional discrimination,” said Rep. Ana Hernandez, Legal Counsel of MALC. “It’s yet another example of a misguided and democracy-damaging effort that’s end result is voter suppression.”

“This is a significant victory for Texas voters were deprived of a fair opportunity to vote by a discriminatory photo ID law that Texas has spent millions of taxpayer dollars defending,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “This new bill does not undo that damage.”

“This is a big victory, and sends a clear message that the Legislature cannot continue to pass discriminatory voter ID laws,” said Amy Rudd of Dechert LLP, pro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “We hope this decision paves the way for all voters in Texas to have a voice and a vote at the polls.”

Background

Plaintiffs have been fighting Texas’ voter ID law in court for years, arguing that it creates unnecessary obstacles for eligible voters. A federal court in Washington, D.C. first blocked the law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that it would have a disproportionately negative impact on minority citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separate case) gutted core provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would implement the voter ID law.

In July 2016, the full Fifth Circuit court of Appeals issued a decision finding the bill has a racially discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because it disproportionately diminishes African Americans’ and Latinos’ ability to participate in the political process. The appellate court also reversed and remanded the district court’s discriminatory intent finding for further review.

In February 2017, the U.S. District Court heard arguments to determine whether the state intentionally discriminated against minority voters when it passed the original law in 2011. The hearing had previously been scheduled for late-January, but was postponed on Inauguration Day at the request of the Trump administration. The DOJ formally filed to withdraw its intent claim February 27, after five years of fighting the discriminatory purpose of the law alongside civil rights organizations. The court granted DOJ’s withdrawal request on April 3, but made clear that it still considered the question of whether the law was passed with a discriminatory purpose to be a live issue, regardless of the new bill.

For more information on the case, click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 10, 2017

Lawsuit Also Demands Release of Information About the Commission Under Key Government Transparency Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for its failure to operate in a transparent manner under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

The suit comes after the Commission failed to respond to a Lawyers’ Committee request sent one week ago for documents regarding the Commission’s upcoming July 19th meeting—a meeting that will not be open to the public.  In its suit, the Lawyers’ Committee alleges the Commission’s failure to disclose communications and make its meetings open to the public violates FACA.

“We filed today’s lawsuit because the so-called Election Integrity Commission has been operating covertly and its actions, to date, have been shrouded in secrecy,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Through the Federal Advisory Committee Act, we are using an important statutory tool to expose and curb the illegitimacy of this Commission and to bar the commencement of any meetings before they make materials available for our inspection.  In our view, the Commission must not conduct any meetings before complying with our request.  We will continue to fight to expose all of the Commission’s illegitimate actions.”

Monday’s lawsuit, filed with co-counsel Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP in the United States District Court for District of Columbia, addresses the Commission’s lack of transparency on several fronts.  It notes that the Commission’s upcoming July 19th meeting will not be open to the public, and exposes the Commission’s lack of oversight and accountability given that its unprecedented request for personal voter data was not accurately directed at statewide officials nor was it in compliance with many state privacy laws.  The lawsuit additionally notes that the Commission failed to provide public notice or disclose details regarding its June 28th telephone conference meeting, during which the commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, approved a plan to request an unprecedented amount of voter data from statewide election officials.

The suit seeks a temporary restraining order mandating the production of records before the July 19thmeeting, blocking the July 19th meeting until the Commission fulfills its obligations to disclose its documents, and ordering that all commission meetings be open to the public.

“Federal law demands that the President’s Commissions operate in an open and transparent manner.  That principle is of paramount importance when, as here, the Commission seeks to impact the fundamental right to vote.  We are proud to stand with the Lawyers’ Committee in this fight,” said Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer partner John A. Freedman.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a corresponding FACA lawsuit in the D.C. District Court.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: the launch of a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

To read the complaint filed Monday, click here.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 3, 2017

Complaint Flags Likely Hatch Violations Connected to Kobach’s Role on the “Election Integrity Commission”

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a formal Hatch Act Complaint against Kris Kobach, who appears to have violated the Hatch Act in connection with his role as Vice- Chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  Kobach, who recently announced his candidacy for the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial election, has repeatedly exploited his Commission role to promote his candidacy and to solicit campaign contributions. Some of these actions took place while Mr. Kobach appeared in his official capacity as a representative of the “Election Integrity Commission”.

“Kris Kobach appears to be using his official role as head of the so-called ‘Election Integrity Commission’ to promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Hatch Act’s central purpose is to prevent federal employees from using their official position for electoral purposes.  We deem the President’s Election Integrity Commission to be a baseless tool to promote voter suppression and Mr. Kobach’s unlawful abuse of his role as head of the Commission for partisan ends only underscores the illegitimacy of the Commission itself.  The separation of official and campaign business is critical to ensuring that partisanship does not infect official government business.”

The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election”. Kris Kobach, a special government employee, is subject to the Hatch Act because of his role with the Commission.  While SGEs, unlike full-time employees, can run for partisan political office, they must maintain a strict separation between their candidacy and their federal government service.  Mr. Kobach appears to have violated the Hatch Act on multiple occasions. Kobach prominently used his position as Vice Chair of the Commission to promote his candidacy and to solicit campaign funds.

“A Presidential Commission that could greatly affect our Nation’s electoral system must operate free of partisan influence or ulterior motives.  By exploiting his Commission role to promote his candidacy for Governor, Mr. Kobach has raised serious doubt as to both,” said Daniel Jacobson, Associate, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

Instances in which Mr. Kobach took action that may have violated the Hatch Act include the following:

Mr. Kobach promoted his June 30 interviews with Fox News and MSNBC—in which he was indisputably appearing as a representative of the Commission—on his Twitter page in advance. He then provided summaries and video of the Fox News interview on his Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as on his campaign website, shortly after the interview aired.  In so doing, Mr. Kobach made clear that those appearances while acting for the Commission were also in furtherance of his campaign.

The homepage of Mr. Kobach’s campaign website includes two television interviews that Mr. Kobach conducted on Fox News and MSNBC on June 30, 2017, both of which focused entirely on Mr. Kobach’s work on the Commission.

The “About” page of the campaign website further highlights Mr. Kobach’s role on the Commission, stating that “President Trump knows there is no greater leader on these issues, which is why he named Kris to serve as the Vice Chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.”

The “News” page of the website links to three news stories, each of which centers on Mr. Kobach’s work on the Commission. There is a “Contribute” button immediately to the right of the stories, and immediately below that button, the page displays the most recent post on Mr. Kobach’s Facebook page (which as of July 1, was his June 30 Fox News interview discussing the work of the Commission).

Mr. Kobach’s Twitter profile states that the page is “Paid for by Kansas for Kobach,” and his Facebook page displays his campaign logo.  The Twitter and Facebook pages collectively contain at least 28 different posts in which Mr. Kobach has described his work on the Commission.  These include 3 Twitter posts on June 30 promoting or recapping Mr. Kobach’s interviews on Fox News and MSNBC that same day, and a June 30 Facebook post embedding video of the Fox News interview.

Mr. Kobach has also described his role on the Commission in campaign appearances.  For instance, Mr. Kobach appeared on a local “let’s have a beer and talk” television segment the day he launched his campaign.  In the course of the interview, he referenced his position as Vice Chair of the Commission and described the work he expected the Commission to perform.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a formal complaint today with the Office of Special Counsel and will continue to closely examine and scrutinize the activities of the Election Integrity Commission.

A link to our hatch act complaint letter can be found here: Hatch Act Complain & Exhibits 

About the Lawyers’ Committee

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; economic justice; voting; education and criminal justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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MAY 15, 2017

Court Recognizes Claim Brought by African-American, Latino, and Asian-American Voters in Georgia’s Most Diverse County

Washington, D.C., May 15, 2017 – A federal district court judge in Georgia agreed that a coalition of plaintiffs representing minority communities has the right to claim the method of electing local officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia denies them from participating equally in electing local officials.

In her opinion in Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections, Judge Amy Totenberg rejected the County’s argument that claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are limited to members of a single minority group.  Judge Totenberg noted that the Eleventh Circuit and other courts have held that coalition claims are permissible so long as the racial groups are politically cohesive.  The decision was issued on Friday.

“This case is yet another example of how voting discrimination remains rampant across the State of Georgia,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee.  “The court’s ruling recognizes that all minority voters have access to protection under the Voting Rights Act if they are denied an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. From our litigation against Georgia’s illegal registration cutoff for federal runoff elections to its recent racial gerrymander of two State House districts – one of which is in Gwinnett County – much work remains to be done to combat voting discrimination and voter suppression in the state.”

Judge Totenberg also ruled that Gwinnett County’s standing-related challenges are moot because the Plaintiffs filed an amended version of the complaint recently in response to a separate court order.  The County will have the opportunity to raise its standing argument again in a subsequent pleading.

Gwinnett County is a majority-minority county according to the 2010 Census, yet no minority candidate has ever won election to a county-level office, including the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on behalf of a coalition of Plaintiffs representing African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans, alleges the process of electing officials to local offices prevents minority voters from having an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

In their complaint, the Plaintiffs allege that two majority-minority Board of Commissioners districts should be drawn to give African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.  The Plaintiffs in this case include the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), and nine Gwinnett County voters.

“When minority voters coalesce to form a coalition, they should be protected by the Voting Rights Act,” said Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO executive director.  “GALEO is glad that the case moves forward to ensure minority voters in Gwinnett County will be protected against vote dilution.”

“This ruling reaffirms the value of our fusion coalition.  Like America, our coalition is black, white, and brown; gay and straight; the faithful and those of no particular faith are united in the belief that working together we can make democracy work,” said Francys Johnson, Statesboro attorney, and Georgia NAACP President.

“We are pleased that the Court recognized the broad reach of the Voting Rights Act to protect communities of color that stand together from vote dilution,” said Brian Sutherland of Buckley Beal, the Atlanta-based firm that serves as a co-counsel in the case.

The current Board of Education district map assigns approximately 74.4 percent of the African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters to District 5 and splits the balance of the minority population across the other four districts where African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans do not constitute a majority of the population.  The complaint alleges that the Board of Education districts should be re-drawn to include a second majority-minority district so that minority voters have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the Board of Education.

The Plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Crowell & Moring LLP, and Buckley Beal, LLP.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

 About the Georgia NAACP

THE GEORGIA NAACP is the State’s oldest and largest civil and human rights organization.  With an unbroken presence in urban centers and rural counties, from the mountains to the coast since 1917, the NAACP advances the mission of eliminating racism through public policy advocacy, direct action, and litigation.

About GALEO

GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia.  GALEO strives for a better Georgia where the Latino community is engaged civically and its contributions and concerns are recognized.

 About Crowell & Moring LLP

Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with approximately 500 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory, and transactional matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity. The firm has offices in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Anchorage, London, and Brussels. For more information, visit www.crowell.com.

 About Buckley Beal, LLP

Buckley Beal, LLP is a boutique Atlanta law firm that focuses on representing plaintiffs in employment discrimination and commercial litigation. The firm’s attorneys have won multi-million verdicts and settlements for victims of discrimination, retaliation, and business fraud in federal and state courts, and advocate for civil rights and social justice with other important projects as well. For more information, visitwww.buckleybeal.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAY 4, 2017

Court’s Decision Extends Deadline for Georgia’s Upcoming Sixth Congressional District Contest and all Future Federal Runoff Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a federal court in Georgia issued an injunction requiring Georgia election officials to allow voters to cast a ballot in an important congressional runoff election if they register up to 30 days beforehand.  The order, issued from the bench, stops implementation of a Georgia law that allowed voters to participate in the runoff election only if they had registered 30 days before the initial election, roughly 90 days before the scheduled runoff.  The decision was issued by the Honorable Timothy Batten, Sr., United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia.  Judge Batten concluded that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 takes precedence over conflicting state laws when conducting federal elections. Per the order of the court, eligible individuals will have through May 21st to register and vote in the upcoming special election in the state.

“Would-be voters in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District were denied a full and fair opportunity to register and vote under the prior law,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “Today’s decision extending the voter registration deadline helps ensure that eligible voters will be able to participate in the upcoming runoff election, and in all future runoff elections for federal office. States like Georgia must stop taking actions that suppress the rights of voters.”

The case was brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and its pro bono counsel Hogan Lovells US LLP, and the Law Office of Bryan L. Sells, LLC.  The plaintiffs, in this case, are the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Inc., the Georgia NAACP, Third Sector Development, Inc. (parent of the New Georgia Project), and ProGeorgia State Table, Inc., all organizations that devote considerable resources to registering voters, particularly minority citizens, and Jill Boyd Myers, an affected voter who moved into the Sixth Congressional District shortly after registration closed in March.

“It is very gratifying that the Court recognized that any administrative hurdles that election officials might face in extending the deadline pale in comparison to the harm incurred by disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters from this important runoff election,” said Ira M. Feinberg, who argued the motion on behalf of the plaintiffs.

“We strongly urge Sixth Congressional District residents who have not registered to vote to take full advantage of the extension and submit voter registration forms online, in person, or by mail postmarked no later than May 21, 2017, to ensure that they are able to vote in the upcoming runoff election on June 20, 2017,” added Clarke.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires states to ensure that any person can vote in an election for a federal office if he or she registers to vote at least 30 days before that election. The governing federal statute specifically defines “election” as including runoff elections. Georgia law, however, does not allow a person to vote in the runoff if he or she had not registered in time for the first round of the election necessitating the runoff. This, the Court ruled, is inconsistent with the federal law, and must give way to the controlling federal law.

If prospective applicants have any questions about the Court’s Order, they may call the national, nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE for additional information.

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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APRIL 24, 2017

Federal Suit Claims State Redrew Lines for GA House of Reps with a Racially Discriminatory Purpose

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed suit against the State of Georgia and its Secretary of State to remedy an unlawful racial gerrymander. The suit, filed in federal court in Atlanta, claims that the redrawing of lines for Georgia House of Representatives Districts 105 and 111, in 2015, was done with a racially discriminatory purpose to favor the election of White incumbents. The complaint alleges violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Mid-decade redistricting has become another tactic used by those who seek to suppress the rights of minority voters in the face of racial demographic change,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Lawmakers in Georgia explicitly used race to reconfigure district boundaries to guarantee the reelection of white incumbents. This kind of racial gerrymandering is not only unlawful, but illustrative of the ugly racial discrimination that infects the political process in Georgia today.”

“The history of the struggle to disenfranchised people in the nation demonstrates that power concedes nothing without a demand.  This litigation represents our demand that the ‘we’ in ‘We the People’ include all people,” said Francys Johnson, Statesboro Civil Rights Attorney, and Georgia NAACP President. “In the fight to secure the right to vote and elect the candidates of our choice, the NAACP will mortgage every asset we have. These rights are sacred. Hallowed no less by the blood, sweat, and tears of those who came before us.”

“The people of Georgia deserve an electoral system that is fair and free of decisions based on racial gerrymandering and partisan gamesmanship,” said Jennifer Dempsey, Partner, Bryan Cave, LLP. “We hope this lawsuit will advance that cause.”

“As the authors of the Voting Rights Act knew, the right to vote is one of the most important rights of the citizens of this country,” said Gregory Phillips, Partner, Munger Tolles & Olson, LLP. “This lawsuit is brought in order to ensure that all citizens of the State of Georgia, irrespective of color or party, will be able to exercise that right freely and fairly.”

The Georgia House of Representatives is composed of 180 members, each of whom is elected from a single-member district. Traditionally, states adopt a new redistricting plan every ten years, after the decennial Census, so as to comply with the Constitution’s “one person, one vote” requirement. The Georgia legislature, however, has repeatedly sought to amend its post-2010 redistricting plan for its House of Representatives, even though there is no legitimate reason to do so.  It most recently did so in 2015, when it passed House Bill 566 (“H.B. 566”) in ways that departed from normal procedures. For example, African American legislators serving on reapportionment committees were excluded from the process of determining the changes.

Most important, H.B. 566 used race as the predominant factor to allocate African-American and other minority voters into and out of House Districts 105 and 111, so as to reduce the ability of African-American and other voters to elect candidates of their choice. These changes were made against the backdrop of a growing African-American population in those two districts and recent elections that saw White Republican candidates just narrowly defeating Black Democratic candidates.

The Complaint alleges that the passage of H.B. 566, in the context of the historical discrimination against African Americans in Georgia and racially polarized voting, was intended, at least in part, to reduce the number of minority voters and increase the number of White voters to reduce minority voting strength in Districts 105 and 111, and was a racial gerrymander in violation of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.  In addition, the Complaint alleges that the redistricting plan is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander as it creates political classifications without any legitimate legislative objective.

Plaintiffs in the suit include Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and several individuals who live in the contested Districts.  Working with the Lawyers’ Committee as pro bono counsel are the law firms of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP and Bryan Cave. The suit has been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.

To read a transcript of the deposition of Gina H. Wright, Executive Director of the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office of the Georgia General Assembly, taken on November 20, 2017, click here.  To read the transcript of the deposition of Dan O’Connor, Data Analysis Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office of the Georgia General Assembly, taken on December 13, 2017, click here

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

 

About Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

For more than 50 years, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP has been a full-service law firm known for trying bet-the-company cases and negotiating deals that shape our corporate landscape. Our lawyers represent clients in a broad range of complex and high-profile matters in the areas of corporate, litigation, real estate and financial restructuring. Munger Tolles has been consistently ranked on The American Lawyer’s A-List since its inception in 2004, including four years in the top spot. Munger Tolles recently was named to the National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hot List and has done extensive work on voting rights issues.  For more information, please visitwww.mto.com.

 

About Brian Cave LLP

Bryan Cave is a global law firm with more than 900 highly skilled lawyers practicing in 27 offices in North America, Europe and Asia, including Atlanta, Georgia. The firm is routinely ranked by Thomson Reuters in the top 10 for number of M&A deals completed in the US and also recognized for its litigation capabilities in a broad range of complex disputes. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law recently awarded Bryan Cave the Robert F. Mullen Pro Bono Award for exceptional pro bono legal service.  For more information about Bryan Cave, please visit bryancave.com.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 10, 2017

Federal Judge Rules Texas Intentionally Discriminated When it Passed 2011 Voter ID Bill

Corpus Christi, TX – A U.S. District Court judge ruled today that Texas passed its 2011 voter ID law with the intent to discriminate against minority voters. This is a victory for civil rights groups and voting advocates who had been fighting the strict bill for years.

Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos said in her decision that plaintiffs’ evidence establishes that discrimination was “at least one of the substantial or motivating factors behind passage” of the bill. In its analysis, the court focused on how the Texas legislature rejected efforts to soften the “racial impact of SB 14,” such as reducing the costs of obtaining ID or allowing voters to use more forms of ID. The court, like the appeals court before it, noted the “radical departures” that the legislature went through to “rush SB 14 through the legislative process without the usual committee analysis, debate, and substantive consideration of amendments.” And the court highlighted that the “evidence shows a tenuous relationship” between the stated goal of reducing “voter fraud” and the legislation ultimately passed, given the rarity of voter impersonation cases in Texas, and that other, more prevalent forms of voter fraud were not addressed by the bill

Today’s ruling comes one week after Judge Ramos determined that a bill currently pending in the Texas Legislature had no bearing on whether or not the state purposefully discriminated when enacting SB 14. She also granted the Department of Justice’s request to withdraw its intent claim after years of arguing, alongside civil rights groups, that the law was enacted with a discriminatory purpose. The DOJ had made initial moves to switch sides on Inauguration Day, and filed to withdraw its support shortly before a February 28 hearing on the intent of the law.

Plaintiffs, including the Texas State Conference of NAACP Branches (Texas NAACP) and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives (MALC) challenged the law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, arguing that Texas’s strict ID requirement both has the effect of discriminating against minority voters and that the legislature passed the law with the intent to discriminate on the basis of race. Their claims were consolidated with those brought by other groups of plaintiffs, including the United States, and the case is now known as Veasey v. Abbott.

At a September 2014 trial, plaintiffs presented evidence showing the state’s ID requirement would erect discriminatory barriers to voting. At trial, experts testified that 1.2 million eligible Texas voters lack a form of government-issued photo ID that would have been accepted under the new law — and minorities would be hit the hardest.

The October 2014 opinion by Judge Ramos said the law had a discriminatory effect in that African American and Latino voters were less likely than Anglo voters to possess the few sorts of photo IDs allowed by the law, and more likely than Anglo voters to be burdened in getting the ID. Judge Ramos also ruled that the law was passed with a discriminatory intent.

In July 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative appellate courts in the country, agreed with the effect argument, becoming the fourth court in four years to find the law racially discriminated against African American and Latino voters. It sent the intent portion of the claim back to the lower court for further review.

Attorneys representing Texas NAACP and MALC include the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“This marks the fifth time that a court has found Texas’s voter ID law to have been adopted with a discriminatory purpose or effect on minority voters,” said Kristen Clarke, president executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Today’s decision comes on the heels of the Justice Department’s unfortunate decision to abandon the intent claim at a critical moment in the litigation. The court’s decision makes clear that Texas’s voter ID law stands as one of the most discriminatory voter suppression measures in the country, and should issue the death knell for burdensome voter ID requirements in Texas and across the country.”

“Sadly, this is one more instance of the state that many of us love so deeply being found to have engaged in intentional discrimination against citizens of color,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “At some point this discrimination based on the color of Texas citizens must stop. The compact of legal protections for citizens applies without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin.”

“Voting is the most fundamental right in our democracy, and this law purposefully made it harder for African Americans and Latinos to exercise it,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, chairman of MALC. “This is unacceptable in a democracy, and deserved to be called out for what it is – discrimination.”

“This is a great win for Texas voters, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone who looked seriously at the evidence,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center. “Texas legislators crafted a law they knew would hurt minority voters, without any good justification or attempt to ameliorate the harms, and they mangled the legislative process to get it through.

“There is no doubt that the court reached the right result,” said Amy L. Rudd of Dechert LLP, pro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “We hope today’s decision sends a strong message to the Texas Legislature that any deliberate attempt to restrict Texas minority citizens’ right to vote will not be tolerated.”

Read more on the case here and here.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 4, 2017

Federal Voting Rights Lawsuit in Texas Continues Following Rejection of State’s Motion to Dismiss

Case Challenges Discriminatory Method of Election for Highest Courts in State of Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX and WASHINGTON, DC, April 4, 2017 – This week, a federal district court judge denied the State of Texas’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the method of electing Texas’s Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals violates the Voting Rights Act.

The two courts are the highest in the state and decide critical issues across the state. The lawsuit alleges that the statewide method of electing judges to these courts is discriminatory and denies Latinos an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.  In Texas, whites vote as a bloc resulting in the defeat of candidates supported by the Latino community.

In the opinion in the case of Lopez v. Abbott, Judge Nelva Ramos held that all Plaintiffs, including seven Latino voters and a Latino civic organization, have standing to bring the suit. Judge Ramos also rejected Texas’s argument that Plaintiffs had failed to state a cause of action under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, noting that the Supreme Court has already held that Section 2 applies to judicial elections. The case will now proceed to trial.

“This case makes clear that voting discrimination remains rampant across the state of Texas,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The courts at issue render decisions that affect all Texans, but the current method of election prevents minority voters from electing candidates of their choice to these important tribunals. From our litigation against the state of Texas regarding their discriminatory photo ID law to this case challenging the discriminatory method of electing judges, much work remains to be done to address voting discrimination across the state.”

Texas’s Latino citizen voting age population (CVAP) comprises 26.5 percent of the state’s CVAP while white Texans comprise 56.4 percent. With Latinos in the minority and voting polarized along racial lines, Latinos have been drastically underrepresented on both courts for decades. Since 1945, only two of the 48 judges to serve on the Court of Criminal Appeals, a mere 4.2 percent, were Latino. Over the same time period, only five of the 77 justices to serve on the Supreme Court, or 6.5 percent, were Latino.

In their complaint, Plaintiffs have alleged that, if the election process were changed from statewide to districts, two districts could be created with a majority of CVAP of Latino voters, increasing the likelihood that Latino voters could overcome the bloc voting of white voters and have the chance to elect candidates of their choice to these courts. In prior judicial vote dilution cases, courts have often rejected similar claims because they found that the state’s interest in linking the jurisdictional and electoral bases of judges outweighed the evidence of vote dilution. However, Judge Ramos recognized that the linkage interest is particularly weighty when trial judges are at issue. Here, plaintiffs challenge the method of electing appellate judges. Unlike trial judges, who courts have indicated may be more susceptible to local influences because they decide cases by themselves, appellate judges decide cases as part of multi-member panels. Judge Ramos’s opinion also recognized that plaintiffs must allege only that racial factors govern voting patterns and need not disprove the influence of other factors on electoral outcomes.

“For decades, Latino Texans have been forced to sit on the sidelines of democracy while white Texans elect their preferred judges,” said Jose Garza, a civil rights attorney and partner at Garza Golando Moran, PLLC. “It is time for these two courts to move into the 21st Century and fully reflect the diversity of our state.”

“Latinos been denied a fair shake when it comes to electing the most powerful judges in Texas,” said Neil Steiner, a partner at Dechert LLP, which is representing the plaintiffs pro bono. “We look forward to litigating this case and to establishing that a more just system is required.”

Plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee, Garza Golando Moran, PLLC, and Dechert LLP.

A link to the opinion attached.

This case is part of the Lawyer’s Committee’s ongoing work to challenge voting discrimination by state courts.  In 2016, the Lawyers’ Committee also filed a federal voting rights lawsuit challenging the discriminatory method of election used for the Alabama’s State Supreme Court and its two highest appellate courts.

 

CONTACT:

Nikki Thompson

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
202-662-8382

[email protected]

Erin West

Dechert LLP

202-261-7761

[email protected]

Martin Golando

Garza Golando Moran, PLLC

210-892-8543; 210-471-1185

[email protected]

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

About Garza Golando Moran, PLLC:

Garza Golando Moran, PLLC is a general practice law firm based in San Antonio that predominately serves clients in central and south Texas. The firm specializes in several different areas of law including voting and civil rights, state and local government, and legislative procedure. For more information about Garza Golando Moran, PLLC, visithttp://www.ggmtx.com/.

About Dechert LLP:

Dechert LLP is a global specialist law firm focused on sectors with the greatest complexities and highest regulatory demands. We deliver practical commercial insight and judgment to our clients’ most important matters. Nothing stands in the way of giving clients the best of the firm’s entrepreneurial energy and seamless collaboration in a way that is distinctively Dechert. For more information about Dechert LLP, visit https://www.dechert.com/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FEBRUARY 23, 2017

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX and WASHINGTON, D.C. – Groups and individuals suing Texas over its strict photo ID law filed a brief in U.S. District Court today in opposition to a joint request by the state and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), who asked to delay a hearing to determine whether the law was enacted with a discriminatory intent. The state and DOJ said in their request that a bill had been filed in the Texas Legislature which, if passed, would amend the existing strict law. Courts have held four times that the current law discriminates against African Americans and Latinos.

In opposing the request, plaintiffs argue that the contents of the new legislation are speculative at this point, and that the bill has not yet been passed. Even if passed into law, the bill “has no bearing on whether SB 14, enacted in 2011, was passed with unlawful discriminatory purpose,” they wrote. The intent hearing was ordered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last summer when it ruled that the Texas law had a discriminatory effect.

Texas first attempted to delay the intent hearing last year, which the court denied. On Inauguration Day, the court granted a separate request from Justice Department lawyers to postpone the hearing, which had been scheduled for late-January, in order to allow the DOJ under the new administration to examine the issues in the case. The hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, February 28 in front of U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, the same judge who found the law to be intentionally discriminatory in October 2014. For the last 5 years, in various federal courts, the Department of Justice has steadfastly taken the position that the Texas bill was intentionally discriminatory.

In July 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative appellate courts in the country, agreed that the law has the effect of discriminating against African American and Latino voters in Texas, becoming the fourth court in four years to declare the law racially discriminatory. But it sent the case back to the lower court for further review of the claim that the Texas legislature had intended to discriminate when passing the law.

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or MALC, challenged the Texas law in September 2013. That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the groups include the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“Once again, Texas is attempting to delay resolution of this important long-standing case, now supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s changed position on the need for further delay,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Regardless of the Justice Department’s shifting positions, we are fully prepared to move forward now and seek to present evidence making clear that the Texas Voter ID law was enacted with the intent to discriminate against African-American and Latino voters. Texas and the Justice Department must stop looking for excuses to delay this important hearing as voters and would-be voters have been denied relief for far too long. In our brief submitted to the court today, we urge the court to flatly reject this latest attempt by the Justice Department and Texas to stall this important litigation.”

“Texas’ photo ID law will have a discriminatory effect and was passed with discriminatory intent,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center. “I’m glad that it has finally registered with Texas’ leadership that the law needs to be changed. It is too bad for Texans that it has taken five years, four adverse court rulings, and millions of dollars spent to get there.”

“Minority and less fortunate citizens have suffered long enough, and we do not think it’s wise to delay the hearing pending the adoption of legislation that may not repair the discriminatory effects of SB 14,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “This is like having a patient with a gunshot wound being asked to wait for surgery until the person who pulled the gun has time on his schedule to perform the surgery. That makes no sense.”

“This has gone on long enough,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia, chairman of MALC“The last election showed how thousands of Texas voters are adversely impacted by the strict photo ID laws. Because core democratic principles like voting rights are at stake, we strongly encourage the court to move forward on the question of intentional discrimination by the State of Texas.”

“We are prepared to prove that Texas acted with discriminatory intent in enacting the photo ID law, and our clients are entitled to a ruling on that important issue,” said Amy L. Rudd of Dechert LLP, pro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “Given the Texas Legislature’s numerous attempts to make voting more difficult in Texas, a determination now that the photo ID law was passed with discriminatory intent hopefully would dissuade future lawmaking with the same purpose and effect.”

Background

A federal court in Washington, D.C. first blocked Texas’s voter ID law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that the law would have a disproportionate negative impact on minority citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separate case) ruled that the formula used in the Act for specifying the states covered by Section 5 is unconstitutional. As a result, Texas is not currently required to comply with Section 5. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would implement the voter ID law.

At the September 2014 trial, the Texas NAACP and MALC, among others, presented evidence showing the state’s ID requirement would erect discriminatory barriers to voting. At trial, experts testified that 1.2 million eligible Texas voters lack a form of government-issued photo ID that would have been accepted under the new law — and minorities would be hit the hardest. For example, the court credited testimony that African-American registered voters are 305 percent more likely and Latino registered voters 195 percent more likely than white registered voters to lack photo ID that can be used to vote.

The October 2014 opinion by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos concluded the photo ID requirement violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right vote, was passed by the Texas legislature with the intent to discriminate, and constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax. The judge ordered that Texas cease implementing the law, but the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect for the 2014 election.

In July 2016, the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision finding the law had a racially discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The appellate court also reversed and remanded the district court’s discriminatory intent finding for further review.

Read more on the case here and here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FEBRUARY 13, 2017

Lawsuit Challenges Discriminatory At-Large Voting System in Jones County, North Carolina Which Has Denied African American Voters a Fair Opportunity to Elect Candidates of Choice to County Commission for More than Two Decades

 Washington, D.C. – A federal voting rights lawsuit challenging the election scheme in a North Carolina county was filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

The complaint was brought on behalf of voters in Jones County, North Carolina by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with law firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Patterson Harkavy LLP.  The lawsuit alleges that the county’s method of electing its Board of Commissioners—the five-member body that makes critical and wide-ranging decisions impacting Jones County residents—dilutes the voting strength of its African American voters, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  Because the county employs an “at-large” system, all Commissioners are elected county-wide.  In Jones County, voting remains racially polarized and white voters historically vote as a bloc to defeat candidates of choice supported by the African American community.  As a result, African American voters have not been able to elect a candidate of their choice to the Board of Commissioners since 1994, though they comprise nearly a third of the county’s voting-age population.  The result, according to the complaint, is the “systemic neglect” of the needs of African Americans in Jones County.

To remedy the violation of voting rights in Jones County, the lawsuit seeks to change the election scheme for the Board of Commissioners from an at-large system to one that provides for single-member voting districts.  The proposed alternative districts would include one in which African Americans would comprise a majority of voters, giving them a fair opportunity to elect a member of the Board of Commissioners and have a voice in the affairs of Jones County.

“This case marks the first major federal voting rights lawsuit filed in 2017 and makes clear that voting discrimination is alive and well in North Carolina,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Racially polarized voting persists in Jones County, North Carolina and as a result, African Americans have not been able to elect a candidate of choice to the county’s board of commissioners in more than 20 years.  While some politicians circulate baseless allegations of vote fraud, this case makes clear the real barriers to democracy that we continue to face today.  We will continue to use the Voting Rights Act as a tool to combat discrimination to safeguard the rights of African American voters in Jones County, North Carolina and other parts of the nation.”

“It is critical for us to defend our democracy by ensuring that elections are free and fair and that all voters have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” said Jonathan I.  Blackman, partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.  “Vote dilution is just as unacceptable to a healthy democracy as voter suppression and gerrymandering.”

“The at-large election system excludes African Americans from service on the Jones County Board of Commissioners, and denies African American voters the chance to elect their chosen candidates,” said Burton Craige, a Raleigh lawyer with the civil rights firm Patterson Harkavy, LLP.  “All residents of Jones County, black and white, deserve to have a voice in their local government.”

North Carolina has been a familiar and contested battleground for these issues.  In 2016 a panel of three federal judges found that the state’s legislative map had been corrupted by unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. Another panel of federal judges ruled in 2016 that the North Carolina state legislature violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act when it enacted numerous restrictions suppressing the ability of African-Americans to vote.  The court roundly criticized the state’s “shameful history” of discrimination and observed that the measures—which included a new voter ID law and restrictions on early voting—targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

The University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights provided critical support in the matter.

To read the full complaint, please click here.

About the Lawyers’ Committee

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FEBRUARY 10, 2017

Voting Advocates Announce a Settlement of “Exact Match” Lawsuit in Georgia

Minor Typos and Data Entry Errors will No Longer Deny Eligible Georgians the Right to Register and Vote

Washington, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, Campaign Legal Center, Voting Rights Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center, along with the New York City office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Atlanta-based firm of Caplan Cobb LLP, acting as pro bono counsel, announced a settlement today in a lawsuit filed on behalf Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda and the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, which challenged Georgia’s exact-match voter registration verification scheme. The suit alleged Georgia’s “exact match” system violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and deprived eligible Georgians of their fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and resulted in Georgia restoring more than 42,000 previously purged voters to the rolls.

“This important victory ensures that tens of thousands of voters will not be disenfranchised by Georgia’s “no match, no vote” policy, which unnecessarily denied people the opportunity to register to vote” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “We will continue to fight ongoing voting discrimination and barriers to the ballot box. Now is the time for focus on policies that can help make voting easier in Georgia and across the nation.”

The complaint, which was filed in September 2016 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, concerned Georgia’s voter registration verification process. Since 2010, Georgia required all of the letters and numbers in the applicant’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number or last four digits of the Social Security number to exactly match the information in the state’s Department of Drivers Service (DDS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. If even a single letter, number, hyphen, space, or apostrophe did not exactly match the database information, and the applicant failed to correct the mismatch within 40 days, the application was automatically rejected and the applicant was not placed on the registration rolls – even if they were eligible to vote.

This flawed process led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of applications from eligible applicants, with African American, Latino, and Asian American applicants being rejected at rates significantly higher than White applicants. For example, of the approximately 34,874 voter registration applicants whose applications were cancelled between July 2013 and July 15, 2016, approximately 22,189 (63.6 percent) identified as Black, 2,752 (7.9 percent) identified as Latino, 1,665 (4.8 percent) identified as Asian-American, and 4,748 (13.6 percent) identified as White.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Secretary of State agreed to implement reforms to help ensure that eligible Georgians will no longer be denied the right to register and vote as a result of data entry errors, typos and other database matching issues that do not bear upon the applicant’s eligibility to vote. Some of the reforms agreed to by the Secretary of State pursuant to the terms of the settlement include:

  • Georgia will no longer automatically cancel voter registration applications where the information on the application fails to exactly match the applicant’s data on the Georgia Department of Drivers Services (DDS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) databases;
  • If the data on a voter registration application fails to exactly match data on the DDS or SSA databases, applicants will be added to the rolls as “pending,” with no deadline to correct the mismatch;
  • Such registrants will be able to present their Georgia driver’s license, State ID card or other forms of appropriate ID at the polling place and be able to cast a ballot;
  • In cases where the applicant is a U.S. citizen, but the DDS database contains an error or out of date information showing the applicant is not a citizen, those individuals will be able to show proof of their citizenship –  up to and including on Election Day –  to complete the registration process and cast a ballot.
  • The full details are set forth in the attached Settlement Agreement.

These reforms, which were partly implemented before the November 8, 2016 general election, gave more than 42,000 previously disqualified applicants, who were otherwise eligible to vote, an opportunity to complete the registration process and cast a ballot.

The settlement will also result in giving thousands of additional applicants whose applications were rejected as a result of the “exact match” system between October 1, 2013 and October 1, 2014 the opportunity to now finalize their voter registration and be able to cast ballots in this year’s elections and elections in the future.

“Asian Americans are the fastest growing immigrant population in Georgia. Our communities are naturalizing in increasing numbers, and we will continue to see more New Americans exercise their right to vote,” said Stephanie Cho, executive director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.  “We are pleased that this decision increases access to voting for immigrants and people of color.”

“The fundamental right to vote should never hinge on data entry errors and technicalities. Our systems can and must do better,” said Danielle Lang, deputy director of Voting Rights at the Campaign Legal Center. “Thanks to this settlement, and our partners who led this effort, tens of thousands of eligible Georgia voters will be restored to the rolls.”

“This settlement is an important recognition that as sacred as the vote may be in democracy; the vote cannot protect itself,” said Francys Johnson, Georgia NAACP President.  “This is not the work of government alone.  It takes a vigilance from engaged citizens to protect and defend our fundamental values.  These reforms at the heart of this settlement are strong indications that our democracy works.”

“This case illustrates the importance of careful, sensible registration procedures,” said Michelle Kanter Cohen, election counsel for Project Vote. “No American citizen should be denied their fundamental right to vote because of discriminatory practices or bureaucratic mistakes.”

“This settlement brings an end to Georgia’s onerous exact match requirement and instills important protections for voters in our state,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.  “Voters deserve an election system that enables participation, not one that creates barriers and forces voters to jump through unnecessary hoops.”

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; economic justice; voting; education; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org        

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JANUARY 23, 2017

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court announced today it will not hear arguments at this time over Texas’s strict photo ID law, which the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as racially discriminatory last summer. Approximately 600,000 registered voters did not have the acceptable ID required under the law as originally written.

The decision is the latest in the years-long battle over the law, which plaintiffs argued discriminated against Black and Latino voters in the state. It was the strictest law of its kind in the nation, allowing, for example, a voter to use a concealed gun permit to vote, but not an identification card from one of the state’s flagship universities.

Plaintiffs challenged the law under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, among other claims, arguing that Texas’s strict ID requirement both had the effect of discriminating against minority voters and that the legislature passed the law with the intent to discriminate. The Supreme Court’s decision today leaves intact the determination that the ID requirement has a discriminatory effect.

A federal trial court hearing was scheduled for this week to examine whether Texas was intending to discriminate against minorities when it passed the law, but President Trump’s Justice Department asked for and was granted a postponement. The DOJ was originally slated to argue on the same side as the plaintiffs.

In a statement released with today’s order, Chief Justice John Roberts said he wanted to review all the issues in their entirety, on both the discriminatory effect and intent claims, before deciding whether to take the case.

In September 2016, Texas asked the Supreme Court to review a July Fifth Circuit ruling that the law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by disproportionately restricting voting rights of Black and Latino voters in the state. It was the fourth court in three years to find the law was racially discriminatory.

After the July ruling invalidating the law, plaintiffs worked with the state on a court-ordered remedy to allow Texans who did not have the required photo ID (and could not reasonably obtain it) to cast a regular ballot in the 2016 election, and to educate voters about the new process. Monitoring efforts leading up to and on Election Day, however, made it clear that Texas did not fully abide by the court’s order. Meanwhile, the state continued to defend the discriminatory law, spending upwards of $3.5 million on legal costs.

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or MALC, challenged the Texas law in September 2013. That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the groups include the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court has declined to hear this case, leaving intact an appeals court ruling that found the law to have a discriminatory effect on minority voters,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Texas photo ID law burdens the rights of hundreds of thousands of voters and would-be voters, and restrictions like this should have no place in our democracy today.”

“It has been an incredible waste of taxpayer monies and state resources to challenge what any reasonably objective person knows — that the law is plainly and simply discriminatory against racial and ethnic minorities,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “Judges appointed by presidents of both political parties have so held repeatedly.”

“There is no more fundamental American right than the right to vote, and the Supreme Court protected it by declining to hear this case,” said Jose Garza, legal counsel for MALC. “Multiple courts, including the Fifth Circuit, have reviewed this bill and seen it for what it is — a tool to silence the voices of Latinos, African Americans, and elderly or poor voters. There was no basis for questioning their conclusions, and the Supreme Court affirmed that today.”

“The job of the courts is to protect our fundamental rights,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections Project at the Brennan Center. “When the case comes before it, the Supreme Court has an important opportunity to affirm and uphold this country’s promise that Americans will be free from racial discrimination when they step into the voting booth.”

“Today the Supreme Court took a big step toward ensuring that all Texans will have the opportunity to vote in future elections,” said Amy L. Rudd of Dechert LLP, pro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “By declining to hear Texas’s case, they came down on the side of protecting this most fundamental right.”

The plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court not to take the case in a brief late last year.

Background

A federal court in Washington, D.C. first blocked Texas’s voter ID law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that the law would have a disproportionate negative impact on minority citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separate case) ruled that the formula used in the Act for specifying the states covered by Section 5 is unconstitutional. As a result, Texas is not currently required to comply with Section 5. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would implement the voter ID law.

At the September 2014 trial, the Texas NAACP and MALC, among others, presented evidence showing the state’s ID requirement would erect discriminatory barriers to voting. At trial, experts testified that 1.2 million eligible Texas voters lack a form of government-issued photo ID that would have been accepted under the new law — and minorities would be hit the hardest. For example, the court credited testimony that African-American registered voters are 305 percent more likely and Latino registered voters 195 percent more likely than white registered voters to lack photo ID that can be used to vote.

Read more on the case here and here.

Advocacy Updates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 22, 2017

While Public Interest Legal Foundation Undertakes National Campaign to Institute Massive Purge Voter Programs, Civil Rights Groups Take Preemptive Action by Offering Guidance to Election Officials on Prohibitions within the National Voter Registration Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, leading national civil rights organizations are urging state and county election officials in 248 jurisdictions across the country to reject the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s (PILF) campaign to launch wide-scale voter purge effort across the country. Using deceptive tactics promoting voter suppression, and urging actions that could, in fact, violate the legal requirements of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), PILF’s action has created an immediate need for clarification. In response, the coalition of organizations, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and Demos, are issuing letters to all guidance to jurisdictions on how to comply with the NVRA.

The national effort comes in direct response to letters recently sent by PILF to hundreds of local election officials across the country. In them, the group’s suggested actions could violate legal requirements under the NVRA, a law Congress passed to increase voter participation and registration. PILF uses an unreliable and inaccurate assessment of voter registration rates to accuse the jurisdictions it has targeted of having more voters on the rolls than eligible residents. It then falsely claims these high registration rates alone provide strong evidence that a jurisdiction is not fulfilling its obligation to maintain accurate voter registration databases. PILF has threatened litigation if their proposed measures are not taken. PILF’S letter is part of a larger concerted effort to remove voters from registration lists and further its false and baseless claim that there is widespread voter fraud across the country.

Today, the three civil rights organizations sent a letter and accompanying memo to the jurisdictions targeted by PILF. The groups make it clear the jurisdictions can protect themselves against PILF’s threats and offer to provide assistance in that area.  The memo also asserts PILF’s justification for a voter purge, which includes the misleading use of U.S. Census Bureau data, is baseless.

“Purge programs are an old and familiar tactic used to suppress the rights of voters. Today, we are undertaking preemptive action to block the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s baseless attempt to incite and bully election officials into instituting unlawful purge programs across the country,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law. “We can’t ignore the fact that PILF’s voter purge campaign is being waged by Christian Adams, one of the Commissioners serving on the President’s so-called Election Integrity Commission.  It is clear that PILF’s campaign is one part of a larger coordinated effort that we are witnessing across the country to promote voter suppression efforts, including purge programs that risk the removal of legitimately registered voters from the registration rolls. The job of election officials is to help people vote, not stop them from voting, and we will do everything we can to help ensure that election officials carry out their jobs in compliance with federal law.”

“The National Voter Registration Act exists in part to prevent irresponsible purges like the one PILF is attempting to initiate here,” said Jonathan Brater, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.“Scaring local officials into complying with their agenda is not only wrong, but it also could lead to illegal purges. Federal law does not require what PILF demands. We are ready to help those jurisdictions who got these letters continue to help people exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

“Our democracy is strongest when every voice can be heard – when every eligible citizen can cast their vote and have it counted. The National Voter Registration Act includes clear guidelines for communities to maintain accurate and up-to-date voter rolls, and to protect voters from improper removal. Public Interest Legal Foundation has no viable legal claim; its letters to jurisdictions are intended to bully counties to implement aggressive and illegal voter purge practices that will disproportionately impact low-income families and people of color, and suppress their votes,” said Stuart Naifeh, Counsel at Demos.

The memo states: “In part because of the PILF letter’s deficiencies, we are concerned that it was sent with the intention of bullying or inducing counties into undertaking more aggressive voter purge practices, which could lead to the removal of eligible voters from the rolls, especially poor people and people of color.  As organizations that represent and protect voters, we are deeply concerned that PILF’s threats will scare election administrators into performing ill-conceived or illegal list maintenance programs, in violation of federal law.”

Last week, PILF’s executive director J. Christian Adams sought to use his position as a member of the sham Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to prompt the U.S. Department of Justice to provide to the Commission a report on voter fraud prosecutions over the last decade.  The inquiry raises additional alarm about the Commission’s collusion with DOJ, which in June requested information from 44 states about voter list maintenance procedures.

To read the memo sent to 248 location jurisdictions on Wednesday, click here.

A copy of the general letter issued to all 248 jurisdictions can be found here.

###

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About the Brennan Center for Justice

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. We work to hold our political institutions and laws accountable to the twin American ideals of democracy and equal justice for all. The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies. And we fight for them — in Congress and the states, the courts, and in the court of public opinion.

About Demos:

Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. Demos is working to reduce both political and economic inequality, deploying original research, advocacy, litigation, and strategic communications to create the America the people deserve. For more information about Demos visit www.demos.org.

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement responding to racist campaign mailers sent to residents around the country targeting minority candidates.

“We denounce and condemn the recent slew of hate-filled mailers circulated around the country which seeks to polarize communities, demonize minority candidates and depress minority voter participation in the 2017 election cycle. While every election cycle brings those who are willing to use such unimpeachable language from out of the shadows, these flyers must be understood in the context of an intensifying hate crime crisis currently unfolding across the country. These hateful flyers use language that has now become synonymous with anti-immigrant, divisive and xenophobic policies promoted by the current administration, including the Muslim Ban.  Racial campaign appeals are an old and familiar tactic that evidence the discrimination and voter suppression that continues to infect our voting process in this country.  We encourage communities to condemn these appeals when they appear and urge federal and state election officials to investigate these seemingly coordinated efforts to determine whether they violate laws that prohibit intimidation or interference with elections.”

The Edison flyers calling on readers to “Make Edison Great Again” and the flyer targeting the Sikh Mayoral candidate used the language used by President Trump to support his racist, Islamophobic Muslim ban and are a thumb-in-the-eye to the progress we have made to be a more inclusive country.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

The Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide.  For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 21, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement Wednesday regarding the announcement that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month for an oversight hearing.

“This oversight hearing of the Justice Department is long overdue.  With significant evidence of politicization at the Department and within the Civil Rights Division in particular, it is critical the Senate Judiciary Committee fulfills its oversight role.  The work of the Civil Rights Division is uniquely important, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions must be held accountable for the dramatic changes that have taken place on his watch, which have brought federal civil rights enforcement to a virtual grinding halt.  =

“We also urge the Senate to closely examine evidence that the Division is engaged in collusion with the highly controversial, so-called Election Integrity Commission.  The goals of the Commission are fully antithetical to the mission of the Division, which is charged with fighting—not prompting—voter suppression.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Commission, including filing litigation in the D.C. District Court regarding the Commission’s lack of transparency.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also issued a report following the first 100 days of Attorney General Sessions’s tenure to shine a spotlight on key civil rights matters that are being abused or ignored by this administration and Attorney General Sessions.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

Civil Rights Groups Demand that Texas Officials Ensure Compliance with

High School Voter Registration Law

Groups release new report on lack of compliance with law

 

Click here to read the report

Austin, TX —  Today, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Voto Latino and League of Women Voters of the Austin Area called on Texas officials take action to ensure compliance with Texas’s High School Voter Registration law after releasing an exhaustive report revealing that less than 6 percent of all Texas high schools even request voter registration applications from the Secretary of State in the fall of 2016.

In the report, TCRP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law reveal a complete failure by Texas officials to ensure compliance with the high school voter registration law, which requires every public and private high school to offer voter registration opportunities to eligible students at least twice a year.

While the law should make Texas a national leader in youth registration and turnout, the opposite is true.  To correct this grave failure, TCRP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law suggest, among other things, that , rather than requiring schools to request voter registration forms, the Texas Secretary of State should affirmatively send the forms directly to high schools.

Beth Stevens, Voting Rights Director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, said:

“Texas has a long standing law which requires high schools to offer eligible students the opportunity to register to vote at least twice a school year. The law requires the Texas Secretary of State to ensure implementation of the law occurs. The Secretary is failing at this part of his job. This unique law should make Texas a leader in youth voter registration and turnout. But that’s not the reality in Texas. Instead, Texas ranks third worst in the country.We were pleased to see the Secretary’s recent op-eds indicating he is committed to making compliance with this law a priority. We look forward to the Secretary actually taking concrete steps to demonstrate the commitment, starting with the commons sense reforms discussed in the report. ”

Brendan Downes, Voting Rights Project Associate Counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said:
“This law hasn’t worked for 30 years. Unless the Secretary takes substantive, concrete steps to make it easier for high school principals to comply, it won’t work for another 30.”

Denali Kervella, Student Leader for Voto Latino, said:

“Texas serves as ground zero on many of the country’s biggest and most important fights against attacks on Latino communities. Officials have a moral obligation to provide our youth the opportunity to engage in our political system and be given a voice on issues that impact their futures. We urge the Texas Secretary of State to act now, and not let our young people be left out of the civic process.”

Cinde Weatherby, Board President of the League of Women Voters of the Austin Area, said:

“The League of Women Voters of Texas knows that if we are able to facilitate and inspire a young person to vote in the first election for which they are eligible, there is a greater likelihood they will continue to be voters throughout their lifetimes. It starts with voter registration, and the most efficient way to reach out to them is through the school system – both public and private.”

Click here to read the report

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

Common Cause Florida, State Voices Florida, League of Women Voters Florida and the Lawyers’

Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Call on Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, to Postpone Elections

this Month Due to Devastating Impact of Hurricane Irma upon Florida Voters

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Common Cause Florida, State Voices Florida, the League of Women

Voters Florida and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, appeal to Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, to postpone municipal and statehouse elections scheduled in the coming weeks due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on the State of Florida and Florida voters.

“Floridians are continuing to struggle with repairing and restoring power to our homes and securing food and water for our families. For many, the storm has placed extra obstacles in the path to the ballot box. Governor Scott should delay special elections scheduled in the coming weeks until it’s clear that all polling places are fully accessible and all voters have a reasonable chance to participate,” said Liza McClaneghan, State Chair, Common Cause Florida.

“Florida voters should be granted the appropriate time and accommodations to participate in their local elections after a natural disaster occurs. In order to provide a fair election that doesn’t prohibit voters from casting their ballots due to circumstances beyond human control, an election process for the affected counties must be established,” said Jasmine Burney-Clark, Deputy Director Florida501(c)3 Civic Engagement Table (State Voices).

“Every citizen in Florida should be able to exercise their right to vote in the most accessible manner, said Pamela Goodman, President, League of Women Voters of Florida. “Governor Scott can help protect this right in this distressing time for so many of his constituents.”

“As Floridians emerge from boarded-up homes and shelters following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma, we call upon Governor Scott to postpone upcoming elections for a reasonable time to allow Florida voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said Julie Houk, Senior Special Counsel, Voting Rights Project, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We are particularly concerned about Florida’s most vulnerable voters, many of whom have been unable to return to their homes, or are without power and lack basic necessities and resources. Floridians deserve the opportunity to focus on relief and rebuilding efforts without fear of being shut out of participating in the electoral process.”

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About the Common Cause Florida:

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

About State Voices Florida:

State Voices Florida is a state based collaboration of nonpartisan civic engagement organizations in Florida. The State Voices Florida Table’s nonpartisan mission is to engage historically underrepresented communities in the democratic process.

About the Florida League of Women Voters:

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

In Comments Submitted to the Kobach-led Commission, Lawyers’ Committee Notes                                                    “the Commission operates in a shroud of secrecy and with pre-cooked conclusions”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the voting rights of millions of Americans and is in clear violation of key government transparency laws, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law charged Monday in public comments filed ahead of the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday.

While the Commission led by known vote suppressor Kris Kobach lacks diversity and has failed to meet basic transparency requirements outlined in the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), its work also has had a chilling effect on the American electorate through its unprecedented request for personal voter information and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.  Left unaddressed, the effect of the Commission’s politically-motivated work could ultimately infringe on the voting rights of millions of Americans, particularly racial minorities.

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, stated: “This Commission meeting is a farce.  It is astounding that this Commission has lined up a full day of speakers who provide no racial, gender or ideological diversity.  In so doing, the Commission has made clear that they do not represent the diverse voices of Americans who care about voting but is instead focused on providing a platform for the extremist views of those who support voter suppression.  In the lead up to this Commission meeting, Kris Kobach advanced a false and baseless theory of vote fraud in New Hampshire that was quickly discredited and makes clear his hostility towards student voters.  In every respect, it is clear that the agenda of this Commission is to target vulnerable groups of voters in order to push forth laws and policies that will make it harder for people to vote.  We will continue to use the court as a venue to challenge this Commission’s unlawful activities and work to terminate the Commission and its dangerous agenda.  In no uncertain terms, we condemn the formation and continued operation of the so-called Election Integrity Commission.”

Tuesday’s Commission meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, features a stacked line up of guest panelists who provide absolutely no racial, gender, or ideological diversity.  In fact, every one of the ten panelists called to speak is a white male and many are among the nation’s most vocal voter suppression advocates.  It was only in response to litigation brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law that the Commission released its agenda ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.  In a court hearing last week relevant to that litigation, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly stated that the Commission did not “live up to the representations” it previously made to produce materials to the public.

In addition to its FACA litigation in the D.C. District Court and its comments to the Commission submitted Monday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Commission.  This includes launching a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); sending letters to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

A copy of the comments submitted Monday can be found online.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 28, 2017

Washington, D.C. — Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement after Kris Kobach’s, vice-chair of the Election Integrity Commission, renewed effort to obtain personal voter data:

“Once again, the so-called Election Integrity Commission is attempting to amass personal data on millions of American voters to promote its dangerous agenda. Reports of voters around the country seeking to remove their names from the voter registration rolls demonstrate the chilling effect of this Commission and its misbegotten request. We urge states to fully reject offering any support to this voter suppression scheme.

“We also urge voters not to remove themselves from the rolls.   Lawyers’ Committee stands ready to support you.  Voters should not let the Commission take away their most precious right.  If any voter has any questions, please contact us at 866-OUR-VOTE.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: the launch of a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 19, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the following statement Wednesday at the conclusion of the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a commission established by President Trump and co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that threatens the rights of minority voters.

“In today’s meeting, members promoted false and unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud while failing to provide meaningful focus on real problems that threaten our democracy such as ongoing voting discrimination, voter suppression and Russia’s interference with our elections.  The discussion among Commission members makes clear that they are laying the groundwork to promote dangerous policies and laws that will make it more difficult for Americans to register and to vote. This Commission represents a dark moment in American democracy and makes clear this administration’s hostility to advancing voting rights.

“As the nation prepares to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the enactment of the bipartisan Voting Rights Act, we urge Democrats and Republicans to condemn the so-called Election Integrity Commission and work together to protect the voting rights of all Americans.  We intend to challenge this Commission at every turn as it continues to violate federal laws that require transparency and remains a vehicle to promote voter suppression on a national scale.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: the launch of a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 18, 2017

Kristen Clarke Responds to Federal Judge Decision in Suit Against Election Integrity Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement Tuesday regarding the decision by a federal judge in a suit brought by the organization against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a commission established by President Trump and co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that threatens the rights of minority voters.  Last week, the Lawyers’ Committee filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, against the Commission for violating key provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and seeking emergency relief providing for the disclosure of documents by the Commission.  After the lawsuit was filed, the Commission began to release publicly some documents concerning its activities.  Because of these disclosures, the Court denied the emergency relief “at this time,” but indicated several times in its opinion that the Commission may be required to produce additional documents as the lawsuit progresses.

“It took our lawsuit demanding full transparency in accordance with federal law for the White House to finally disclose some, though not all, materials concerning the so-called Commission on Election Integrity.  While we are disappointed with the Court’s ruling denying our request for emergency relief, we are encouraged that the Court recognized that more documents are likely to be disclosed as our case continues.  With the voting rights of millions of Americans at stake, we will continue the fight to ensure full transparency with respect to this so-called Commission’s activities,” Clarke said. 

The Lawyers’ Committee filed its lawsuit last week with co counsel Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP outlining the Commission’s lack of transparency on several fronts.  It noted that the Commission’s scheduled July 19th meeting was not appropriately open to the public, and exposed the Commission’s lack of oversight and accountability.  The lawsuit additionally noted that the Commission failed to provide public notice or disclose details regarding its June 28th telephone conference meeting, during which the commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, approved a plan to request an unprecedented amount of voter data from statewide election officials.

Since the Lawyers’ Committee’s lawsuit was filed, the Commission has taken some steps to provide information to the public, most notably by launching a website and granting press access for Wednesday’s meeting.

“Although the Court did not issue an injunction, we will be working with the Lawyers’ Committee to monitor the situation to confirm that the Commission operates with the level transparency required by law,” said Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer partner John A. Freedman.

In addition to the FACA lawsuit, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: the launch of a hotlinefor the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaintagainst Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 5, 2017

Leading Civil Rights Organization Also Reiterates Its Call To Statewide Election Officials To Boycott Partisan Election Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement Wednesday regarding the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a bipartisan commission established by President Trump and co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that threatens the rights of minority voters.  On Wednesday, Mr. Kobach sought again to solicit the personal information of more than 200 million voters across the country.

“One day after Americans celebrated our freedom and independence, Kris Kobach is once again attempting to intimidate state election officials into releasing vast amounts of data and personal information on virtually every voter across the country.  Mr. Kobach is a notorious vote suppressor, and the fact that he is the only person speaking for the so-called Commission on Election Integrity, which was billed as a bipartisan effort, is concerning.  We continue to urge state election officials to not provide any support or release any voter data to Mr. Kobach’s meritless inquisition. State support of any kind legitimizes this Commission’s unprecedented and dangerous agenda.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: the launch of a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas, and; requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), a key government transparency law.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 29, 2017

Letters Issued by Kris Kobach to Secretaries of State Seek Disclosure of Identifying Information on All Voters Across Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the following statement today in response to news that Kris Kobach, vice-chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, issued letters to Secretaries of State seeking disclosure of identifying information on voters across the country:

“We fully condemn actions taken today by the President’s Election Integrity Commission seeking disclosure of data and personal information on virtually every voter across the country.  This meritless inquisition opens the door for a misguided and ill-advised Commission to take steps to target and harass voters and could lead to purging of the voter rolls. We urge Secretaries of State who received a letter from Kris Kobach to reject this request and discourage state and local officials from participating in this Commission’s dangerous activities.  Today’s action underscores the fact that the Election Integrity Commission is operating in a reckless manner and its activities threaten to have a chilling effect on minority voters.  We encourage the public to contact 866-OUR-VOTE to report complaints or any suspicious activity regarding the activities of the Election Integrity Commission.  We know that voting discrimination and voter suppression are the real threats to American democracy and we will resist the Commission’s attempt to divert federal resources and attention away from these problems.”

Secretary Kobach requested state voter roll data, including: The full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party, last four digits of social security number if available, voter history from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.

This week, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law announced the launch of a special effort to safeguard the rights of voters in the wake of the Election Integrity Commission.  Through its Election Protection hotline (866-OUR-VOTE), the Lawyers’ Committee invites concerned individuals, communities and local officials to report instances of intimidation and discrimination that result from the Commission’s activities.  Staffed with trained volunteers, Election Protection’s 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT to assist any voter who experiences intimidation or needs information to understand their rights.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAY 15, 2017

Court’s Decision to Not Hear Appeal Leaves in Place 4th Circuit Ruling Finding the Comprehensive Voter Suppression Measure Discriminatory

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement regarding today’s Supreme Court move which leaves in place the 4th Circuit’s decision regarding North Carolina’s comprehensive voter suppression measure:

“The Supreme Court’s move today now renders North Carolina’s law null and void, and brings to close a long and protracted battle over a law deemed one of the most egregious voter suppression measures of its kind,” said Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law president and executive director, Kristen Clarke. “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has left in place the 4th Circuit’s decision finding North Carolina’s draconian voter suppression measure unlawful because it discriminated against minority voters with ‘almost surgical precision.’”

“The battle over North Carolina’s law reflects the fallout from the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder which gut a core provision of the Voting Rights Act. Had the Section 5 federal review process remained in place, North Carolina’s discriminatory voting law would likely have been blocked at the outset and never would have gone into effect. The fate of North Carolina’s law underscores the need for Congress to take action to restore the Voting Rights Act, and should also serve as a strong caution to lawmakers across the country who are entertaining similar efforts to restrict minority voting rights.”

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; economic justice; voting; education and criminal justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAY 11, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement Thursday in response to alarming reports that President Trump will launch a commission to review his unfounded claims of voter fraud.  According to reports, the commission will be co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a partisan advocate for voter suppression laws:

“In no uncertain terms, we condemn the launch of this so-called Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.  President Trump is trying to create a distraction from actual threats to our democracy, such as ongoing voter suppression and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“When Attorney General Jeff Sessions led a similar effort as a former prosecutor in Alabama, it had a chilling effect on the black vote.  Now, President Trump is seeking the counsel of Kansas Secretary of State Kobach, who has a proven record of advocating for discriminatory and burdensome policies that prevent members of minority communities from exercising their right to vote.”

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 13, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement following the Iowa Legislature passing a bill requiring identification at the polls, and reduction of early voting prior to a general election, from 40 days to 29 days:

“Restrictive voter ID laws are nothing more than concerted efforts to disenfranchise voters,” said Kristen Clarke, president executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Claims that this restrictive measure is needed to prevent fraud are baseless and unsubstantiated.  Iowa should reverse course and adopt inclusive measures that actually expand access to our democracy.”

About the Lawyers’ Committee:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JANUARY 27, 2017

Federal Lawsuit Claims New York City Board of Elections Actions Violate National Voter Registration Act

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), together with Common Cause/New York, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm of Dechert LLP, applaud New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for filing a motion to intervene in their lawsuit against the New York City Board of Elections (NYC BOE).

The New York Attorney General’s motion comes on the heels of U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis granting the U.S. Department of Justice’s separate motion to intervene.  DOJ filed its motion on January 12, and Judge Garaufis granted it on January 18.

The lawsuit seeks to restore the voting rights of New York City voters who have been improperly removed from the rolls in violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).  This includes the more than 117,000 registered voters who were removed from the voter registration rolls prior to the April 2016 primary election by the NYC BOE’s Brooklyn Borough Office.  As a result of the lawsuit, filed five days before the November 2016 election, the NYC BOE previously consented to providing various forms of notice to poll workers and voters concerning the requirement that all voters who believe they are registered must be offered an affidavit ballot on Election Day.  The NYC BOE also agreed to send absentee ballots to individual plaintiffs who had been improperly purged from the registration list.

“The actions taken by the New York City Board of Elections constitute a ‘text book’ violation of the National Voter Registration Act and have resulted in the unlawful purging of thousands of voters from the rolls,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee.  “We applaud Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for joining with the U.S. Department of Justice to weigh in on the voting rights violation in this case.  Our democracy works when every eligible voter can exercise their fundamental right to vote at the ballot box.”

“Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is a dependable and steadfast ally in the fight for universal voting rights, and our case is stronger with his support,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY.  “We are all committed to delivering fair and accessible elections for all New York voters.”

“We welcome the New York Attorney General’s intervention, and we will continue to seek documentation from the NYC Board of Elections with the full force of the law,” said Joanna Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF.  “When news of the unlawful voter purges first came to light, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Common Cause and Lawyers’ Committee joined a press conference on April 25, 2016, noting that we would seek federal oversight from the USDOJ, and that we also welcomed a thorough investigation from the New York State Attorney General.  The Supreme Court’s holding in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 effectively removed three counties in NYC from Section 5 federal preclearance protections under the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which would have likely prevented this harm from occurring in the first place.  As we welcomed intervention from the USDOJ earlier this month, we similarly applaud intervention from the New York Attorney General, making it very clear that the harm to New York voters is unacceptable and cannot happen again.”

“We are committed to making it possible for all eligible citizens to exercise the fundamental right to vote and participate in our democracy, and look forward to working with the NY AG as well as the DOJ to ensure that happens for all New Yorkers,” said Neil Steiner, a partner at Dechert LLP, which is representing the plaintiffs pro bono.

Plaintiffs in the suit include voters affected by New York City Board of Election’s actions and Common Cause/New York.

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

 About LatinoJustice PRLDEF
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, originally established as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) in 1972, is one of the foremost national nonprofit civil rights legal defense and education funds working to advance, promote, and protect the legal rights of Latina/os throughout the nation. Our work is focused on addressing systemic discrimination and ensuring equal access to justice in the advancement of voting rights, housing rights, educational equity, immigrant rights, language access rights, employment rights, and workplace justice, seeking to address all forms of discriminatory bias that adversely impact Latina/os. For more information on LatinoJustice, please visit:
 www.latinojustice.org.

About Dechert LLP:
Dechert LLP is a global specialist law firm focused on sectors with the greatest complexities and highest regulatory demands. We deliver practical commercial insight and judgment to our clients’ most important matters. Nothing stands in the way of giving clients the best of the firm’s entrepreneurial energy and seamless collaboration in a way that is distinctively Dechert. For more information about Dechert LLP, visit https://www.dechert.com/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JANUARY 12, 2017

Federal Lawsuit Claims New York City Board of Elections Actions Violate National Voter Registration Act

Washington, D.C.—The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), together with Common Cause/New York, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm of Dechert LLP, applaud the Justice Department for filing a motion to intervene in their lawsuit against the New York City Board of Elections (NYC BOE).

The lawsuit seeks to restore the voting rights of New York City voters who have been improperly removed from the rolls in violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).  This includes the more than 117,000 registered voters who were removed from the voter registration rolls prior to the April 2016 primary election by the NYC BOE’s Brooklyn Borough Office.  As a result of the lawsuit, filed five days before the November 2016 election, the NYC BOE previously consented to providing various forms of notice to poll workers and voters concerning the requirement that all voters who believe they are registered must be offered an affidavit ballot on Election Day.  The NYC BOE also agreed to send absentee ballots to individual plaintiffs who had been improperly purged from the registration list.

“The actions taken by the New York City Board of Elections constitute a ‘text book’ violation of the National Voter Registration Act and have resulted in the unlawful purging of voters from the rolls,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee.  “Voting discrimination persists across our country, making clear the need for the Justice Department’s role in these cases.  Our democracy works when every eligible voter can exercise their fundamental right to vote at the ballot box.”

“The DOJ intervention validates the claims made in the complaint and that’s good news for future elections,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY.  “However, a lawsuit should not be necessary to get the Board of Elections to comply with applicable federal law.  New Yorkers deserve a professional elections administration that makes voting easy, accessible, and efficient.”

“When news of the potentially unlawful voter purges first came to light, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Common Cause and Lawyers’ Committee joined a press conference on April 25, 2016, noting that we would seek federal oversight from the USDOJ, so we welcome the USDOJ’s intervention,” said Joanna Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF.   “The Supreme Court’s holding in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 effectively removed three counties in NYC from Section 5 preclearance protections under the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which would have likely prevented this harm from occurring in the first place. In June and July of 2016, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the NY Voting Rights Consortium sent several Formal Request Letters to the USDOJ specifically requesting that they investigate any potential voting rights violations made by the NYC BOE.  We salute DOJ’s intervention, which makes it clear that the harm to New York voters is unacceptable and cannot happen again.”

Plaintiffs in the suit include voters affected by New York City Board of Election’s actions and Common Cause/New York.

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

 About LatinoJustice PRLDEF
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, originally established as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) in 1972, is one of the foremost national nonprofit civil rights legal defense and education funds working to advance, promote, and protect the legal rights of Latina/os throughout the nation. Our work is focused on addressing systemic discrimination and ensuring equal access to justice in the advancement of voting rights, housing rights, educational equity, immigrant rights, language access rights, employment rights, and workplace justice, seeking to address all forms of discriminatory bias that adversely impact Latina/os. For more information on LatinoJustice, please visit:
 www.latinojustice.org.

About Dechert LLP:
Dechert LLP is a global specialist law firm focused on sectors with the greatest complexities and highest regulatory demands. We deliver practical commercial insight and judgment to our clients’ most important matters. Nothing stands in the way of giving clients the best of the firm’s entrepreneurial energy and seamless collaboration in a way that is distinctively Dechert. For more information about Dechert LLP, visithttps://www.dechert.com/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JANUARY 10, 2017

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Announces Opposition to Senator Jefferson Sessions’ Nomination to Serve as Attorney General of the United States

WASHINGTON, DC, January 10, 2017 – Today, following an extensive review of Senator Jefferson Sessions’ record on civil rights, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued a statement announcing its opposition to his nomination to serve as Attorney General of the United States.  The statement was accompanied by a letter opposing his nomination signed by nearly 150 corporate lawyers from across the nation.  Its opposition focuses in large part on concerns regarding Sessions’ opposition to enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and other federal civil rights laws.

This past fall, the Lawyers’ Committee filed a Voting Rights Act case concerning the method of election used for the state’s three highest courts in Sessions’ home state of Alabama.  All members of those courts today are white because of voting discrimination and racially polarized voting that persists across the state.  That said, Senator Sessions has described the Voting Rights Act as an “intrusive piece of legislation” and has stated that voting discrimination no longer exists in states such as Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina.  Evidence makes clear that voting discrimination persists and Senator Sessions does not hold a commitment to enforcement of this critical law.

“Our nation is at a crossroads.  At a time of great division in our country, Senator Sessions has repeatedly stood opposed to equal protection under the law for our nation’s most vulnerable communities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Senator Sessions has cheered the demise of a critical provision of the Voting Rights Act, opposed hate crimes legislation and the Violence Against Women Act, adamantly fought efforts to diversify Alabama’s all-white appeals courts, and prosecuted black civil rights advocates who were performing the most American of activities – registering people to vote.”

“Despite the fact that Senator Sessions claims that Americans no longer face voting discrimination, the Lawyers’ Committee filed several cases in 2016 alone to enforce the Voting Rights Act and its promise that all Americans can participate equally in the democratic process,” said John Nonna. “Senator Sessions cannot simultaneously deny reality and uphold the law.”

James P. Joseph, Co-Chair, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law stated, “Americans deserve an Attorney General who has demonstrated clearly and consistently that everyone is entitled to the protections and rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”

In 1986, the Senate Judiciary Committee recognized that Senator Sessions’ record on race, which included calling an African American colleague “boy” and describing organizations like the NAACP as “un-American,” made him unfit to be one of several hundred federal district court judges.  That record remains unchanged.  But in the years since, Senator Sessions’ actions have only confirmed that he lacks the ability and commitment to uphold and defend the rights of all Americans.

About the Lawyers’ Committee:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit 
www.lawyerscommittee.org.

About The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

Other Election Protection Updates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Governor Rick Scott issued an Executive Order on September 15, 2017, postponing municipal elections in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral to October 3, 2017, following an appeal by Common Cause Florida, State Voices Florida, the League of Women Voters Florida and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to delay these elections because of the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on Lee County voters.

We thank Governor Scott and Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Tommy Doyle, for postponing these elections to ensure that eligible voters in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral, particularly minority voters who are struggling to recover from the impact of this deadly storm, will be able to exercise their right to participate in these important municipal elections,” said Kristen Clark, executive director and president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We encourage eligible voters seeking to exercise their right to vote to call the 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) Election Protection hotline with any voting-related questions during early voting or on Election Day.”

“Common Cause Florida is pleased that the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office is assisting the municipalities in executing their elections have chosen to provide greater access to the ballot for its citizens making it easier for the electorate to fully participate,” said Liza McClenaghan, state chair for Common Cause Florida. “The postponement helps ensure that a natural disaster was not compounded by denying residents of hard hit areas the ability to choose their elected officials.”

“It’s vital to our democracy that every citizen gets the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in the most accessible and fair manner,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “This postponement assures that right for the citizens of Lee County.”

Early Voting for the Ft. Myers and Cape Coral elections will take place on Thursday, September 28 through Saturday, September 30, between the hours of 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.  For more information about elections, candidates, voter registration, early voting, vote-by-mail requests, precinct locations, poll workers, and Community Education Services events, Lee County voters may also visit the Lee County elections website at www.lee.vote or call LEE VOTE (533-8683).

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

 

About Election Protection:

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting.  The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide.  For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

 

About the Common Cause Florida:

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

 

About State Voices Florida:

State Voices Florida is a state based collaboration of nonpartisan civic engagement organizations in Florida. The State Voices Florida Table’s nonpartisan mission is to engage historically underrepresented communities in the democratic process.

 

About the Florida League of Women Voters:

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released the following statement Tuesday at the conclusion of the second meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a slanted commission established by President Trump and co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that threatens the rights of minority voters:

“Today’s Commission meeting in New Hampshire lacked diversity, facts, or actual solutions to support our democracy and combat voting discrimination that we know prevents racial minorities from voting.  Instead, Kris Kobach and his colleagues continued marshaling data in misleading ways to continue building a false narrative that voter fraud exists.  This myth has been widely discredited, and yet we listened to commissioners reiterate these claims in ways that proved truly irresponsible. 

“Today’s Commission meeting must be viewed in the context of a Justice Department that has all but abandoned its obligation to enforce laws that would eliminate voting discrimination.  The Commission is part of the administration’s broader agenda to promote national policies that would make it harder for minority communities to vote.”

Tuesday’s Commission meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, featured a stacked line up of guest panelists who provided absolutely no racial, gender, or ideological diversity.  In fact, every one of the ten panelists called to speak was a white male and many are among the nation’s most vocal voter suppression advocates.  Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed public comments filed outlining the glaring problems with the Commission including its lack of ideological diversity or commitment to transparency in accordance with federal law.

 

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

PRESS RELEASES - 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DECEMBER 9, 2016

Agreement in Federal Lawsuit Will Provide African American Voters in Emanuel County, Georgia Equal Opportunity to Elect Candidates of Choice

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), the law firm of Carlton Fields, Georgia NAACP and attorney Jerry Wilson announced a settlement agreement in the case, Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, et al. v. Emanuel County Board of Commissioners.  Under the agreement, the electoral map for Emanuel County, Georgia, will be re-drawn to establish two majority-African American school board districts. Through the creation of at least two “majority minority” districts, African American residents of Emanuel County will be afforded the opportunity to elect school board candidates of choice.

The settlement resolves a federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in February 2016, alleging that the County’s current electoral map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) by diluting the voting power of African Americans. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the Georgia NAACP, the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, and two Emanuel County voters.

“Democracy extends well beyond the doors of the White House,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Local government provides communities a vehicle to impact issues that concern their day-to-day lives.  Today’s victory helps ensure that African American voters in Emanuel County, Georgia will be provided a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the local school board.  We will continue to use the Voting Rights Act as a tool to combat voting discrimination and to achieve fairer and more democratic outcomes across our country.”

African Americans in Emanuel County continue to bear the effects of a long history of discrimination, which hinders their ability to participate effectively in the political process and has resulted in African American residents’ having a lower socioeconomic status and lagging behind white residents in a wide range of areas, including employment, income, education, and access to health care. Furthermore, the school board has overwhelmingly hired white applicants, despite the availability of qualified African American candidates. As a result, even though African American students make up nearly half of the student population in the county’s schools, the faculty and staff in the county’s schools contain a much smaller percentage of African Americans.

Since redistricting must be approved by the Georgia General Assembly, the settlement agreement requires the school board to pass a resolution and work with the local delegation to the Assembly to ensure that lawmakers approve a map with two majority-African American districts.

“This settlement represents progress in making real the promises of America’s democracy even in very rural places like Emanuel County, Georgia,” said Francys Johnson, Statesboro attorney and Georgia NAACP president.  African Americans make up one-third of Emanuel County’s voting age population, and nearly half of its students. Yet, there has never been more than one African American elected to the seven-person School Board at any one time. Under the current district map for the school board, African American voters are packed into just one of the Board’s seven districts: African Americans represent 81 percent of that district’s voting age population, while comprising an average of only 23.6 percent of potential voters in the other districts.  This disparity suppresses the voting strength of black adults in six districts. The new map will better reflect the African American presence in the County as a whole.”

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit were represented by a team of attorneys from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Ezra Rosenberg and Arusha Gordon), Carlton Fields (Robert D. Helfand, Gail Podolsky, John Herrington) and the offices of Jerry Wilson.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

About Carlton Fields
Carlton Fields has nearly 400 attorneys and government and financial services consultants serving clients from offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C. The firm is known for its national litigation practice, including class action defense, trial practice, white-collar representation, and high-stakes appeals; its regulatory practice; and its handling of sophisticated business transactions and corporate counseling for domestic and international clients. For additional information, visit www.carltonfields.com. (Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A. practices law in California through Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, LLP)

About the Georgia NAACP
Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.  The Georgia NAACP has had an unbroken presence in Georgia since 1917 and maintains a network of branches throughout Georgia, from cities to small rural counties. The Georgia NAACP has been the most effective and consistent advocates for civil and human rights in Georgia.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 8, 2016

Largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition Election Protection urges voting reform

Perspective on voting process from nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today leading civil rights organizations comprising the Election Protection Coalition worked in tandem to document egregious violations of voting rights and galvanize support to overcome obstacles to voting. As of 8:30 p.m. EST on Election night, over 35,000 phone calls were placed to the coalition’s voter assistance hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) on Election Day alone, with over 100,000 calls placed during the 2016 election cycle. There were at least 8,000 Election Protection volunteers working on Election Day 2016.

Calls to the hotline documented unlawful photo ID screening across Pennsylvania, while Florida college students reported that poll workers classified their dormitories as hotels and then issued them provisional ballots. In North Carolina, coalition members filed a lawsuit to keep polls opened later after voters were paper ballots in lieu of malfunctioning equipment.

Election Protection Coalition partners reflected as polling sites closed across the country on this day in voter issues:

“Our American electoral system is a work in progress,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Today, we saw a number of issues involving voter intimidation, long lines outside of polling sites, equipment failures, improper application of voter identification requirements, and other issues. More work remains to be done to ensure full access to our democracy.  We will use the information obtained from this election cycle to push for positive reforms and to continue our work to combat ongoing voting discrimination and voter suppression.”

“The calls coming through our hotline this election cycle proved the critical importance of in-language resources for our growing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) electorate,” said Christine Chen, executive director of APIAVote.. “Calls came from over forty states, highlighting the expansive geographic diversity of our community, with concerns about language access, navigating the voting process, and more.  This year, AAPI voters capitalized on early voting, with high early voter turnout in states like North Carolina, Florida and Georgia, which demonstrates that our community is taking advantage of our in-language resources like the hotline to access the ballot.”

“There is no excuse in the 21st century for voters to experience long lines because of machine malfunctions, confusion over rules or overt discrimination in voting,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “This election makes clear that Congress and the states must to act immediately to restore the Voting Rights Act and make commonsense reforms to modernize election systems.”

“Through our 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota hotline, we know Latinos headed to the polls today prepared, informed about their rights and ready to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” said Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund executive director.  “While we were concerned by some reports of voter intimidation, long lines and delays in opening of polling locations, we know that Latino voters remained steadfast in their commitment to casting ballots this election.  Working together with the community, partners and the Election Protection Coalition, we were able to address problems in real time, helping ensure that eligible Latino voters who wanted to exercise their right to vote were able to do so in Election 2016.”

“Today, calls to the hotline (1-888-API-VOTE) paint a different picture for the Asian American electorate than in past years as the majority of calls were not about voter intimidation but rather about AAPIs exercising their democratic rights,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.  “Our hotline was a beacon of information for the community – finding polling locations and providing in-language resources for AAPI voters.  Though we will continue to monitor the hotline for reports of voter intimidation in the next several weeks, we are encouraged that our efforts were focused on the opportunity to vote and not about those intending to obstruct it.”

###

About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 6, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Every voter is entitled to have their voice heard and vote counted. Unfortunately, some users of social media are spreading false information about voting. As such misinformation appears, social media companies must act swiftly to remove content designed to deceive or mislead voters on how to vote.

Recently, some Twitter users circulated what appeared to be official Hillary Clinton campaign advertisements that falsely claimed you can vote by text message. In fact, no state permits voting by text message. Ads like this are designed to deceive voters and have no place in our democracy. Social media platforms – including  Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr – must immediately remove content that deceives voters about how, where and when they can vote.

Twitter has set a good example for all social media companies by removing such content. We encourage other social media companies to moderate voting-related ad postings and quickly remove those designed to mislead voters or suppress voting, just as they do with other kinds of damaging content.

We encourage these platforms to help users vote and learn where they can turn if they have problems voting. The sites should actively promote all of the non-partisan voter helplines staffed by trained legal volunteers.

The helpline numbers are:

  • 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683), English only, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law;
  • 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682), bilingual English and Spanish, led by NALEO Educational Fund;
  • 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683), bilingual in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog, led by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice–AAJC; and
  • 844-418-1682 (#YallaVote), bilingual English & Arabic led by the Arab American Institute.

About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 5, 2016

Order Requires NYC BOE to Provide Affidavit Ballots to Purged Voters

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2016 – Following a hearing in a lawsuit seeking emergency relief for voters purged from the registration rolls in New York City, a federal judge ordered Friday night that the New York City Board of Elections must require poll workers across New York City to provide affidavit ballots to individuals who believe they were registered to vote but whose names do not appear on the registration rolls.  Those affidavit ballots may be counted.  The lawsuit, brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm of Dechert LLP, against the New York City Board of Elections (NYC BOE) was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York on behalf of Common Cause and individual plaintiffs, which challenged the NYC BOE’s premature removal of voters from the registration rolls, as violating the National Voter Registration Act.

After oral argument on the plaintiffs’ motion before Judge Nicholas Garaufis, the court approved an agreement granting plaintiffs’ requested relief providing that any voter who believes that they are registered to vote in New York City, but does not appear on the rolls, may vote this Election Day by affidavit ballot.  The NYC BOE agreed to alert voters who may have been improperly purged that they have the right to cast an affidavit ballot and that those ballots may be counted after the election. The NYC BOE also agreed to take corrective action including issuance of instructions to poll workers on the new requirements, providing notice to voters regarding the new rules by posting notice on the NYBOE website, issuing a press release, and alerting people by way of the city’s voting hotline.  The BOE will provide additional guidance to poll workers prior to Election Day.

“The NYC Board of Elections has maintained a policy of purging voters from the rolls in violation of the National Voter Registration Act,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Across the country we are seeing officials purge legitimately registered voters from the rolls despite the prohibitions contained within federal law. We will continue to fight against these policies to ensure that the rights of voters are preserved.”

“Yesterday’s Court Order provides necessary assurance that any eligible New Yorker who finds that their name does not appear in the poll book is entitled to an Affidavit Ballot, and that they must be advised that they will receive notice as to whether the ballot is ultimately counted,” said Joanna Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF.  “While we were able to ensure these requirements will be communicated to the public, as well as immediately to all 36,000+ NYC poll workers, it remains to be seen whether voters who were improperly removed from the rolls will have their ballots counted.”

“We are committed to ensuring that all eligible citizens are able to exercise the fundamental right to vote,” said Neil A. Steiner, partner, Dechert LLP.  “Yesterday’s order ensures that eligible New Yorkers who have been improperly removed from the voter rolls will be able to cast a ballot and have an opportunity to have their votes counted.”

“We are grateful that we were able, with the federal court’s assistance, to reach agreement with the NYC Board of Elections to provide voters with essential information about protecting their right to vote when they have been removed from the voter rolls and to emphasize to poll workers what the correct procedure is in that circumstance,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY.  “We are committed to doing everything necessary to insure that the Board’s procedures in maintaining the voter rolls fully comply with the requirements of federal law.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 3, 2016

 Federal Lawsuit Claims New York City Board of Elections Actions Violate National Voter Registration Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), together with LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm of Dechert LLP, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  The lawsuit seeks emergency relief restoring the voting rights of New York City voters who were improperly removed from the rolls to ensure that their ballots will be counted this election cycle.

The suit claims that the New York City Board of Elections removed voters from the rolls who relocated within New York City without waiting for the grace period mandated by federal law.  The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 mandates that any voter who moves within New York City can be removed from the rolls only if the voter receives notification from the Board of Elections, fails to respond to that notice, gets placed into “inactive” status, and then fails to vote in the two subsequent federal elections.  Since the New York City Board of Elections has expunged voters without waiting for two federal election cycles, eligible New York City voters will be unable to cast a ballot in the upcoming election.  

Just this year, the New York City Board of Elections confirmed that more than 126,000 Brooklyn voters were removed from the rolls between the summer of 2015 and the April 2016 primary election.  Reports indicate that this included 70,000 people who were taken off the list entirely after have previously been in inactive status.  Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act makes clear that voters may be removed from a registration list for a federal election in limited circumstances: when the registrant has died, if mentally incapacitated or convicted of certain crimes, at the request of the registrant or if the registrant has moved and certain procedures are followed.  The New York City Board of Elections does not comply with the clear requirements set forth by federal law.

“The actions taken by the New York City Board of Elections constitute a ‘text book’ violation of the National Voter Registration Act and have resulted in the unlawful purging of eligible voters from the rolls,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “With just days before the election, it’s especially important to make sure every eligible voter can exercise their fundamental right to vote at the ballot box. All eligible voters in New York City should be able to cast a ballot that will be counted on Election Day.”                                                               

“This suit seeks to ensure that all eligible voters in New York City, including Latina and Latino voters, are able to exercise that right in the upcoming election, and that the New York City Board of Elections remains in compliance with the federal law.” said Joanna E. Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel with LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“The National Voter Registration Act clearly defines those standards that must be met before a voter’s name can be erased from the rolls,” said Neil Steiner, a partner at Dechert LLP, which is representing the plaintiffs pro bono.  “In this case, New York City Board of Election’s stated adherence to a contrary state statute has disenfranchised eligible voters.”                                                           

Plaintiffs in the suit include voters affected by New York City Board of Election’s actions and Common Cause/New York.

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

About LatinoJustice PRLDEF
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, originally established as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) in 1972, is one of the foremost national nonprofit civil rights legal defense and education funds working to advance, promote, and protect the legal rights of Latina/os throughout the nation. Our work is focused on addressing systemic discrimination and ensuring equal access to justice in the advancement of voting rights, housing rights, educational equity, immigrant rights, language access rights, employment rights, and workplace justice, seeking to address all forms of discriminatory bias that adversely impact Latina/os. For more information on LatinoJustice, please visit:
 www.latinojustice.org.

About Dechert LLP:
Dechert LLP is a global specialist law firm focused on sectors with the greatest complexities and highest regulatory demands. We deliver practical commercial insight and judgment to our clients’ most important matters. Nothing stands in the way of giving clients the best of the firm’s entrepreneurial energy and seamless collaboration in a way that is distinctively Dechert. For more information about Dechert LLP, visit https://www.dechert.com/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOVEMBER 2, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) and the Atlanta law firm of Bryan Cave LLP (Bryan Cave), acting as pro bono counsel, are pleased to announce the results stemming from the voter registration deadline extension in Chatham County, Georgia.  The Lawyers’ Committee successfully filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia seeking an extension of the voter registration deadline for residents of Chatham County, Georgia, following Hurricane Matthew.  As a result of the suit, the registration deadline was extended to October 18, 2016 and more than 1,418 were able to register to vote this election cycle.  Approximately 41 percent of new registrants are African American, 4.5 percent are Latino and 38.6 percent are white.

Between January 1, 2012, and the close of registration on October 9, 2012, 13,637 persons registered to vote in Chatham County.  The number of people added to the rolls represents 10.4 percent of all those who registered to vote in 2012.

“As a result of our successful extension of the voter registration deadline, more people are eligible to vote this election cycle in Chatham County, Georgia,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee.  “No resident should be penalized or denied the right to vote because of a hurricane or other natural disaster.  We encourage officials across the state of Georgia to take action that makes voting easier in our democracy.”

Voters across Georgia seeking information on voting are encouraged to contact the national, non-partisan Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE for help this election cycle.  Election Protection, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was formed to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org. Please call the nationwide nonpartisan Election Protection hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683), with any questions or problems voting.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOCTOBER 27, 2016

Washington, D.C.  – Today, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the statement below condemning the “call to action” by an organization known as Oath Keepers:

“Oath Keepers has stated that it will use its supposed “significant capabilities in conducting covert operations, intelligence gathering, and investigation” to combat alleged “voter fraud.”  There is no place in our democracy for this form of vigilantism and extremism.  This is particularly so given that their efforts seem directed against minority communities.   Their eleventh hour antics should be dismissed as an anti-democratic attempt to chill voter participation this election cycle.

Voters who encounter problems or learn of voter intimidation efforts in their communities should contact Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection program led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, at 866-OUR-VOTE.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 18, 2016

Virginia’s Online Voter Registration System Crashes,
Locking Out Eligible Voters on Day of Registration Deadline

Washington, D.C., October 18, 2016 – After receiving and investigating reports indicating that Virginia’s Online Voter Registration system crashed and malfunctioned, denying people a fair opportunity to register to vote on the day of the voter registration deadline, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has issued a letter urging state officials to take immediate action by extending the voter registration deadline.  This extension will accommodate aspiring voters across the state who were denied the opportunity to register to vote because of this technological failure.

“All eligible citizens deserve a fair opportunity to register to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Aspiring voters across the state of Virginia were denied the right to vote because Virginia’s Online Voter Registration system crashed at a very critical moment.  The impact of the state’s error was exacerbated by the fact that it happened on a day in which we historically have seen registration rates peak.  Eligible voters should not be penalized for the state’s failure. “

Voters who have questions about their registration status are urged to call the Election Protection hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE for English language assistance, 888-VE-Y-VOTA for Spanish language assistance, and 888-API-VOTE for assistance in several Asian languages.

A copy of a letter issued by the lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Virginia Civic Engagement Table and New Virginia Majority can be found here.  The groups’ request that the state extend the registration deadline through Friday, October 21, 2016 and provide immediate publicity regarding the extension.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), together with the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, seeking emergency relief extending the time for voter registration in Chatham County, Georgia, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.  The storm had resulted in the closing of County government offices for what would have been the last six days of the voter registration period.  Despite requests to extend the deadline, both Governor Nathan Deal and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, refused to do so.  Chatham County, which includes the city of Savannah, has over 200,000 citizens of voting age, of whom more than 40 percent are African American or Latino.  It was hit particularly hard by the devastating storm.  Almost half of its residents lost power, and it was one of six counties subject to a mandatory evacuation order.

Other states that were subject to the storm’s effects, have had their voter registration deadlines moved, either voluntarily (in the case of South Carolina), or by court order (in the case of Florida).  The complaint alleges that the failure to extend the voting deadline violates the fundamental constitutional right to vote and the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act, which require states to receive and process voter registration forms for a full 30 days prior to Election Day.

“We had hoped that Georgia would do the right thing by its citizens and not penalize aspiring voters impacted by Hurricane Matthew,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee.  “There is no right more important than the right to vote, and this suit seeks to ensure that those who wish to exercise that right are not arbitrarily blocked by the vicissitudes of a hurricane and the hardened stance of elections officials.”

“The people of Chatham County have suffered significant damage and hardship from Hurricane Matthew,” said William V. Custer, partner, Bryan Cave LLP .  “It is adding insult to injury to limit their right to register and vote, especially when neighboring states are making accommodations for their citizens.”

The complaint is available here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOCTOBER 7, 2016

Washington, D.C. – As states brace for the impact of Hurricane Matthew, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law continues to focus on ensuring that all voters have access to the ballot during the 2016 election cycle.

“Officials in states that have imposed mandatory evacuation orders as a result of Hurricane Matthew must take action to relax registration deadlines and early voting rules to ensure that all voters and would-be voters are able to participate this election cycle,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Hurricane Matthew comes at a critical moment in the election season with registration deadlines looming in a number of impacted states.  Evacuation orders ensure public safety but make it more difficult to register and vote.  Our experience during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy make clear that natural disasters stand to disrupt our electoral process, and action must be taken to safeguard minority voting rights.”

Given that many of the counties impacted by Hurricane Matthew have significant numbers of African American, Latino and other minority voters, it is important that election officials take action to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 5, 2016

In response to a lawsuit by voting rights groups, Kemp tells court he will suspend
flawed database matching prerequisite and give recently-canceled registrants the opportunity to vote

ATLANTA, GA and WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tens of thousands of eligible Georgia voters whose voter registrations had been canceled or were at risk of being canceled will be able to cast a ballot this November, according to a letter filed with a federal court by attorneys for Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Voters whose identifying information did not match when compared against Department of Driver Services (DDS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) databases will be able to vote by absentee ballot, during early voting, or on Election Day if they show one of the following forms of ID:

  • A Georgia driver’s license (including an expired Georgia driver’s license);
  • A valid Georgia voter identification card or other valid photo ID card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Georgia, any other state, or the United States which is authorized by law to issue personal identification. This includes a valid student photo ID card issued by a Georgia public college, university, or technical school; a valid out-of-state driver’s license; public transit issued photo ID card; and any other federal or state agency or government issued photo ID card.
  • A valid United States passport;
  • A valid employee photo ID card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, this State, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this State;
  • A valid United States military photo ID card; or,
  • A valid tribal photo ID card.

On September 14, a coalition of voting rights groups filed a federal lawsuit against Kemp, alleging that Georgia’s discriminatory exact-match voter registration verification protocol violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and denied eligible Georgians their fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, Campaign Legal Center, and the Voting Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, along with the New York City office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Atlanta-based firm of Caplan Cobb LLP, acting as pro bono counsel, filed the suit on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.

Since 2010, Georgia has been implementing a voter registration verification process that requires all of the information on a voter’s registration application to exactly match information in the DDS or SSA databases.  If even a single letter, number, hyphen, space, or apostrophe did not exactly match the database information, and the applicant failed to correct that mismatch within 40 days, the application was automatically “canceled”—i.e. rejected—and the applicant was not placed on the registration rolls.

According to the lawsuit, this flawed protocol resulted in tens of thousands of eligible applicants being wrongfully rejected, with significantly higher rates of rejection for Black, Asian-American, and Latino registrants.  For example, since July 2013, White applicants submitted 47.2 percent of all voter registration applications in Georgia, but constituted only 13.6 percent of applicants who have been rejected as a result of the verification protocol.  By contrast, 63.6 percent of rejected applicants were Black, even though Black applicants submitted only 29.4 percent of all applications during that period.  In other words, Black voters were 8 times more likely to be rejected than White voters.  Similarly, Latino applicants constituted 3.6 percent of total applicants and 7.9 percent of the rejected applicant pool.

At the time they filed the lawsuit, the groups also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking emergency relief for Georgia voters.  In response to the motion for emergency relief, on September 23, counsel for Secretary Kemp filed a letter with the court, indicating that Georgia would suspend-the automatic cancellation of applications that failed to match the DDS or SSA databases, and move voters canceled for failing to respond to a “non-match” letter back into “pending” status.  This will affect voters canceled since October 2014.  Similarly, voters who did not match and were advised they would be canceled will also remain in “pending” status.  As a result, these voters will now be able to cast a regular ballot—and be moved to “active” voter status—if they simply show appropriate ID at the polls or produce evidence of citizenship to a deputy registrar when they request a ballot.  The State has also indicated that a new letter will go out to previously-canceled applicants affected by the State’s policy change, informing them that they will be able to clear up the non-match issue and vote at the polls.

On the basis of these changes to the Secretary of State’s procedures—which were acknowledged in a court order—the groups withdrew their motion for emergency relief and are working toward a complete resolution of the matter with the Secretary of State.

“We appreciate Secretary Kemp’s agreement to reform certain aspects of the voter registration verification process following the commencement of this litigation on September 14, and will continue to work with the State to ensure the affected applicants learn about the changes so that they are prepared to do what is necessary in order to vote in the November general election,” said Julie Houk, senior special counsel in the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law.  Houk also noted that affected applicants who have questions or concerns about the process or who encounter difficulties when they attempt to vote may contact the nonpartisan, nationwide Election Protection hotline, 1-866-OURVOTE, for assistance.

“The Secretary of State’s agreement to make these changes will help to ensure that data entry errors and computer glitches will no longer be allowed to trump otherwise valid voter registration applications submitted by Georgians who are eligible to vote,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.  Butler added:  “We now need to make sure that the applicants whose registration forms were rejected since October 1, 2014, or who are now in pending status, are made aware of their right to compete the registration process and vote in the November general election by showing one of the six forms of acceptable photo ID during early voting or on Election Day.”

“The right to vote is the most precious right Americans have,” said Gerry Hebert of the Campaign Legal Center.  Hebert added:  “We are pleased that Georgia officials agreed to quickly address the problems identified in our lawsuit, as it will permit Georgia voters victimized by the flawed data base matching procedure to exercise their voting rights in the November election.”

“The exact match protocol is especially difficult for Asian Americans whose traditional names have too many variations and order.  We found hundreds of our community that were kicked off the rolls,” said Stephanie Cho, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, a plaintiff in the suit.

“This is more than a vindication of our claims; it’s a win for our democracy,” said Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.  “It’s good when reason, common sense, and good case law prevail.”

“In this important election year, we are encouraged to see Georgia taking steps to address the very serious problems the lawsuit identified” said Michelle Kanter Cohen, election counsel for Project Vote.  “No American citizen should be denied their fundamental right to vote because of bureaucratic procedures.  We look forward to working with the State to ensure every eligible Georgia voter gets to cast a ballot this November.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OCTOBER 4, 2016

Washington, D.C. – With the 2016 general election just one month away, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, is ramping up its efforts to safeguard voting rights across the country. Multiple states have attempted to impose severe restrictions on the right to vote.  While courts have batted down many of these efforts to limit the franchise, the confusion surrounding recent rulings and the lack of accurate information could disrupt voting this election cycle. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is spearheading Election Protection’s efforts to protect voters this election cycle, using hotlines, field monitors and voter education, as well as its expansive network of national partners and state advocates, to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.

“The 2016 presidential election cycle makes clear that voting discrimination and voter suppression continues to rear its ugly ahead across our country,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Election Protection and its central 866-OUR-VOTE hotline are available to help voters nationwide to overcome the barriers that stand between them and the ballot box.  Our goal through the Election Protection program is to ensure that all voters are able to exercise the most important right in our democracy.”

Specifically, the program will address:

How recent voting changes have the potential to impact the 2016 election: Although officials in numerous states have proposed measures that would increase the efficiency and inclusiveness of voting procedures, introducing measures such as automatic voter registration, others have turned back the clock on the voting process. Voters in 14 states face new voting restrictions, several of which have drastically impact minority voters. Courts have successfully struck down some of these regulations, but the threat to equal access to the ballot box remains. Election Protection is particularly concerned about the following:

  • Implementation of voter ID laws and recent court decisions concerning voter ID like North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin
  • Voter registration issues in Georgia and Ohio
  • Improper challenges and voter intimidation at the polls

How pollworkers, volunteers, and voters can combat challenges to voting rights: Pollworkers, volunteers, and fellow voters are best able to gauge situations unfolding at polling places on Election Day. Ultimately, this group forms the first line of defense in ensuring voting rights for eligible voters, and Election Protection aims to equip them with the resources and information they need to do so. In the weeks leading up to November 8, Election Protection will continue training volunteers nationwide to monitor Election Day activities and will provide detailed analyses and explanations pertaining to the latest legal decisions on state-specific voting laws.

How minority voters can exercise their right to vote: Given that this year’s election will be the first without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, it’s essential that voters who have historically faced discrimination at the polls can fulfill their civic duty without fear of intimidation. Election Protection simplifies the voting process by offering three nonpartisan voter helplines where trained volunteers are available to address voters’ questions or problems with voter registration, early voting, voter I.D. requirements and other related voting issues to ensure that every vote counts. Voters can seek answers to their questions through the hotlines at the following times:

  • Toll-free English-language hotline: The Lawyers’ Committee’s 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) is currently staffed live on weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m. EST and will expand hours and days as Election Day nears.
  • Toll-free Spanish-language hotline: NALEO’s 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) is live year-round.
  • Toll-free Asian-language hotline: Voters needing assistance during election season in various Asian languages can call and leave a message to AAJC and APIAVote’s 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683), and a volunteer will return their call.

“Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy, yet not all citizens have equal access to voting,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.  “Asian Americans face a number of barriers that impedes our access to the ballot box. The challenges of discriminatory voting laws and lack of access to in-language voter resources are just a few of the obstacles that contribute to lower civic engagement and keep our community from exercising its full political power.”

“For the first time in more than 50 years, Latino voters will cast ballots in a presidential election without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act,” said Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund executive director.  “With more than 13.1 million Latino voters expected to make their voices heard at the ballot box this year, the Latino electorate will play a decisive role in the race for the White House and contests nationwide.  NALEO Educational Fund will be here for the Latino community in the lead up to Election Day, working tirelessly on the ground and through our toll-free bilingual hotline 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) to ensure Latino voters have the information necessary to vote and a resource to report any problems they may experience at the polls.”

“As we head into to the first presidential election since 1965 without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, the 888-API-VOTE hotline is even more critical to protect and serve our electorate,” said Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote). “This election hotline not only provides AAPI voters essential in-language assistance, it ensures that all voters, regardless of proficiency in English, will have equitable access to the ballot box. This is especially important as we know from polling that turnout of limited English proficient voters in 2012 was 9 percent lower than English proficient voters. Our voter education and protection efforts across the country are amplifying this hotline through the elections to ensure equity for our communities at the ballot box.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Election Protection, a coalition of organizations dedicated to protecting and expanding the right to vote, celebrates National Voter Registration Day, an effort devoted to making sure everyone can cast a ballot on Election Day. This initiative arrives as numerous states approach their general election registration deadlines, some of which are scheduled for as early as October 9. Now is the time for eligible residents who wish to vote to confirm their registration status and, if necessary, submit any outstanding forms to ensure their names are on the rolls.

“Each year, National Voter Registration Day reminds us that too many people are left out of the political process simply because they miss the tight deadlines imposed by states across the country,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Our Election Protection hotline provides critical assistance to voters seeking to register and vote.”

“The right to vote is the most important right in our democracy,” said Hill Harper, award-winning actor, bestselling authorphilanthropist and national spokesperson for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “I encourage everyone to take a moment to register to vote or verify your registration status today.”

Election Protection’s toll-free English language hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683), will be live on today, National Voter Registration Day until 8 p.m. EST.  Spanish-speaking voters may seek assistance through our partner hotline, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682), led by NALEO Educational Fund. The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is currently live weekdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST and will expand hours to evenings and weekends as Election Day approaches. The hotline schedule will be updated here: https://www.866ourvote.org/pages/2016-live-hotline-hours-and-dates.

The 2008 general election excluded nearly 6 million eligible citizens due to confusion around registration procedures or missed registration deadlines. That means a significant part of the U.S. electorate was unable to enter the polls and exercise its rights. National Voter Registration Day aims to close this gap, bringing our country one step closer to an election in which the results wholly reflect the preferences of the people.

About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia issued an opinion detailing the reasoning behind its decision to block the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) from allowing three states to implement discriminatory proof of citizenship laws. In January, EAC Executive Director Brian Newby unilaterally approved requests from Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas to require applicants in those states to submit documentary proof of citizenship, such as a copy of a passport or birth certificate, in order to register to vote with the federal voter registration form. Mr. Newby lacked the authority to approve the requests and failed to establish that documentary proof of citizenship was necessary to assess applicants’ eligibility.  Such requirements have been shown to be both discriminatory, because they disproportionately burden Americans of color, and unnecessary, because non-citizen registration is extraordinarily rare. Today, the Court concluded that the plaintiffs “have a substantial (perhaps overwhelming) likelihood of success on the merits” of the case and found it “difficult to imagine a more clear violation” of administrative law.

“We are pleased with the Court’s ruling in this matter,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “The Court agreed with our view that proof of citizenship requirements unquestionably make it more difficult for voter registration groups to register voters. The Court also found that if it did not take action, there was a substantial risk that Kansas would have disenfranchised eligible voters this election cycle. Proof of citizenship requirements, like photo ID laws, are yet another tactic aimed at making it more difficult for voters to participate in our democracy. Today’s ruling casts a dark shadow over these restrictive barriers.”

“Given the Circuit’s Court findings, particularly its determination that we demonstrated a ‘substantial (perhaps overwhelming) likelihood of success,’ we are confident that we will ultimately prevail,” stated Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel and senior deputy director, who is leading the Lawyers’ Committee litigating team in this case.

In its opinion, the Court held that “there is precious little record evidence” of fraudulent registration by non-citizens, noting that Kansas’ own evidence of this supposed epidemic revealed only one instance of a non-citizen attempting to register to vote over a 12-year span. The three states at issue are now legally prohibited from requiring Federal Form applicants to submit documentary proof of citizenship for this election cycle. In the coming weeks, plaintiffs will seek to obtain a summary judgment order that permanently blocks these requirements from going into effect.

The Lawyers’ Committee has been litigating cases on proof of citizenship requirements since 2006. The Executive Director’s action, if left standing, would have been contrary to the rationale behind the decisions that we and other groups have gained before the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal courts. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona could not require documentary proof of citizenship on the Federal Form without EAC approval. Last June, the Supreme Court also turned down a petition from Arizona and Kansas to hear Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The Court’s refusal to hear the case let stand a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which upheld an EAC determination that Arizona and Kansas cannot force applicants using the Federal Form to show documentary proof of citizenship.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

Exact-Match Verification Scheme has Prevented Tens of Thousands of Eligible Georgians from Registering to Vote, the Majority of Whom are African American, Latino, and Asian American Citizens

Washington, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), Project Vote, Campaign Legal Center, Voting Rights Institute of the Georgetown University School of Law, along with the New York City office of Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP and Atlanta-based firm of Caplan Cobb LLP, acting as pro bono counsel, filed suit today on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP (GA NAACP), Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda (GCPA) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta alleging that Georgia’s exact-match voter registration verification scheme violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and denies eligible Georgians of their fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, concerns Georgia’s voter registration verification process, which requires all of the letters and numbers comprising the applicant’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number or last four digits of the Social Security number to exactly match the same letters and numbers for the applicant in the state’s Department of Drivers Service (DDS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. If even a single letter or number, or a hyphen, space or apostrophe, does not exactly match the database information, and the applicant fails to correct the mismatch in 40 days, the application is automatically rejected and the applicant is not placed on the registration rolls even if they are eligible to vote. For those who attempt to re-register, there is no guarantee that the application will not be cancelled again if the information supplied in the original application was correct and the matching failure was due to a data entry error by the election clerk or when the information was originally entered into the DDS or SSA databases.

Worse, this process is resulting in the cancellation of applications submitted by African American, Latino, and Asian American applicants at rates significantly higher than White applicants. For example, of the approximately 34,874 voter registration applicants whose applications were cancelled between July 2013 and July 15, 2016, with a status reason of “Not Verified,” approximately 22,189 (63.6 percent) identified as Black, 2,752 (7.9 percent) identified as Latino, 1,665 (4.8 percent) identified as Asian-American, and 4,748 (13.6 percent) identified as White.

What makes this process so unpredictable and unduly burdensome for applicants is that even perfect applications can fail the matching process, through no fault of the applicant, because of data entry errors in the creation of the database records, inherent limitations in the matching software and algorithms that are used to compare the data, system glitches, and other problems that applicants have no ability themselves to discern or to correct.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General issued a report in June 2009 admitting that the flaws and errors in the SSA’s voter registration verification system were preventing eligible applicants to register to vote. Despite this, Georgia has continued to maintain an error-prone system that disenfranchises thousands of applicants each year.

“Georgia, like many states across the country, has erected another burdensome and unnecessary obstacle for those seeking to register and vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “The Secretary of State’s exact-match program penalizes those seeking to register and vote because of errors contained in databases maintained by the state.  This seemingly innocuous rule has rendered null and void the registration efforts of tens of thousands of otherwise eligible voters across the state “Georgia has been at the forefront of efforts to make voting more difficult for African American and other minority communities.  We seek relief that will help ensure that all eligible people are able to participate this election cycle.”

“We are bringing this suit under the Constitution, and under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language-minority group,” explained Michelle Kanter Cohen, election counsel with Project Vote. “The staggering disproportion in Georgia’s rejection rates makes it clear that Georgians of color are being unfairly disenfranchised by this flawed and unfair process.”

“Young people, senior citizens and Georgians who are new to the state are being unnecessarily disenfranchised by Georgia’s voter registration verification process,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, one of the plaintiffs in the action. “While it is gratifying to see young people taking an interest in participating in our democracy, I worry about how this process may discourage them from voting in their first presidential election only to learn that they have been denied the right to vote because of an error-prone and flawed process.”

Stephanie Cho, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, which is also a plaintiff in the case, is concerned that the exact match protocol is making it unnecessarily difficult for Asian American applicants to successfully complete the registration process. “Many Asian Americans have traditional names which may be unfamiliar to election clerks responsible for entering their registration data into the statewide registration system,” she noted.  “Therefore, they may omit a space between an applicant’s first name and middle name, or include a hyphen that the applicant does not use or even transpose a single letter or number.  Failures to match can occur when Asian American applicants use their surname as the first name, which is a common practice for traditional Korean-American applicants. There is no legitimate reason to cancel applications for the failure to match the databases under these circumstances or on such a short timeline when this practice prevents eligible applicants from being able to vote.”

“Georgia is one of the few states that continues to disenfranchise eligible citizens based upon a strict database matching protocol that is not mandated by HAVA or by state law,” said Francys Johnson, president of the GA NAACP, a plaintiff in this matter. “This litigation against Secretary Kemp is part of our ongoing post-Shelby election administration monitoring program in Georgia,” Johnson said. “This case illustrates why the NAACP will mortgage every asset we have to defend the unfettered access to the ballot. It was paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors – voting is sacred.”

There is simply no legitimate reason why this flawed process should be allowed to continue to disenfranchise eligible Georgians, particularly when the evidence shows that the process is disproportionately preventing African American, Latino and Asian American applicants from completing the registration process and is denying them their fundamental right to vote.”

To read the full complaint, please click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Young Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (YLC) will host a panel discussion on September 13 with national leaders to discuss the critical intersection of voting power and educational equity.  “As we work to ensure that all Americans are able to vote and participate this election cycle, we must remember that the right to vote is a tool for achieving educational reform,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Elected officials, including mayors, school board members and state lawmakers, play a critical role in shaping the rules that govern our public education system.  To promote smart education reform, we must remember that every vote matters.”

WHO:

  • The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • The Young Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • John C. Brittain, Professor, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law
  • Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • James Joseph, Partner, Arnold & Porter, and Co-Chair, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Executive Board
  • Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary, Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education

WHAT:  “Every Vote Matters” Series Reception and Panel Discussion: “Your Vote and Educational Equality”

WHEN: Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 4:30-7 p.m.

WHERE: Sedgwick LLP, 2900 K St. NW, Suite #500, Washington, D.C.

RSVP:  All media representatives are asked to RSVP to [email protected] by noon on September 13.

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Right Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; and criminal justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.–United States District Judge Richard Leon indicated that he was inclined to defer argument and decision on plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment  to vacate a decision by Executive Director Brian Newby of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that had granted the requests of Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas to include documentary proof of citizenship requirements in the state-specific instructions to the federal voter registration form, used for mail-in registration. Instead, Judge Leon indicated that he might await the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which, on September 9, had issued a Judgment reversing Judge Leon’s prior decision to deny plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

After the hearing before Judge Leon, Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said, “We are hopeful that, when he eventually considers the summary judgment motion, Judge Leon follows the leads of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, which had indicated that plaintiffs had demonstrated a probability of success on the merits, and strikes down Mr. Newby’s unauthorized and unlawful action.  Congress intended that the EAC act only in a bi-partisan manner, and Mr. Newby’s unilateral act is antithetical to that intent.  People in Alabama, Georgia and Kansas should be able to register to vote by mail, using the Federal Form, without being rejected because of an unnecessary and burdensome requirement.”

“Proof of citizenship requirements are yet another tactic used by those seeking to make it more difficult for people to register and vote across our country,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “We hope that the D.C. District Court ultimately grants relief that will help ensure that tens of thousands of eligible citizens in Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama are not denied the right vote by an unnecessary and burdensome restriction.”

The plaintiffs, which included the Georgia State Conference of NAACP Branches, the Peoples’ Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, and the League of Women Voters of the United States, Alabama, Georgia and Kansas, argued that the executive director’s decision was outside the scope of his authority because the EAC could act only with the approval of three Commissioners, and no such action had been taken by the Commissioners to approve the states’ requests.  In fact, as argued by plaintiffs’ counsel, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU, the Brennan Center, Project Vote, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Arnold & Porter LLP, the long-standing EAC policy had been to reject requests to include the requirement of proof of citizenship, which issue had been litigated up to the Supreme Court in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz.  Among the errors committed by the executive director and the EAC, plaintiffs argued, was the failure of the decision to be based on a finding that granting of the request was necessary in accordance with the express terms of the National Voter Registration Act.

Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling, reversed Judge Leon’s prior decision denying plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the EAC  to take all actions necessary to restore the status quo ante, pending a determination on the merits, including promptly removing from the state-specific instructions those requirements directing voter registration applicants to submit proof of their United States citizenship, and informing Kansas, Alabama and Georgia that Federal Form applications filed since Mr. Newby’s decision should be treated as if they did not contain the now-stricken state-specific instructions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 7, 2016

MONTGOMERY, ALA. and WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and four individual black voters alleging that the method of electing Alabama’s most powerful judges violates the Voting Rights Act. The suit maintains that Alabama’s statewide method of electing members of the Alabama Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals and Court of Civil Appeals deprives the African-American community of the ability to elect any judges of their choice. Currently, all 19 of Alabama’s appellate judges are white.

“In 2016, Alabama’s appellate courts are no more diverse than they were when the Voting Rights Act was signed more than 50 years ago,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “It is time for the highest courts in the state of Alabama to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. This lawsuit seeks to provide African-American voters an equal opportunity to elect judges of their choice, achieve long overdue compliance with the Voting Rights Act and instill greater public confidence in the justice system of Alabama.”

The Supreme Court of Alabama has nine members and is the state’s court of last resort. Alabama’s intermediate appellate courts, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Court of Civil Appeals, each has five members. All 19 judges are elected statewide. Because white Alabamians comprise the majority of the voting age population in the state, and because of racially polarized voting, black-preferred candidates are consistently defeated in elections involving the highest levels of the state’s judiciary. Such vote dilution is prohibited by the Voting Rights Act and the state could easily devise a fairer electoral system.

The Lawyers’ Committee filed today’s suit in partnership with James Blacksher and Edward Still, two long-time Alabama civil rights attorneys, Montgomery-based attorney J. Mitch McGuire, as well as with pro bono counsel Crowell & Moring LLP and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama and is part of the Lawyers’ Committee’s national initiative to bring state courts into compliance with the Voting Rights Act and promote judicial diversity. On July 20, 2016, the Lawyers’ Committee and another set of partners filed a similar suit alleging that the statewide method of electing Texas’s most powerful judges violates the Voting Rights Act.

In the history of Alabama, only two African Americans have won an election to statewide office. Every other black statewide candidate has been defeated by a white candidate. Alabama’s appellate judges have been all-white for 15 years.

“The Alabama NAACP continues to fight for equitable representation of all communities in our judicial system at all levels,” said Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP. “Alabama cannot continue to have a system that ignores segments of the community. We believe that a revised method of electing judges will lead to representation of all segments of the community.”

“The fact that no African-Americans are on the Alabama Supreme Court or any other office elected statewide sends a clear message that black Alabamians remain subordinate to whites in state government, just as the 1901 Constitution intended,” said James Blacksher.

“Jurors are supposed to represent all of the adult population, yet the State uses a system of electing appellate judges that insures those judges come from only part of the population,” said Edward Still.

Alabama has the sixth largest black population in the country with African Americans comprising almost 25 percent of the state’s voting age population.  However, with voting polarized along racial lines, African Americans have been underrepresented on the three courts at issue for decades. In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that the Voting Rights Act applies to judicial elections.

The courts at issue in this case handle cases of all kinds, including important criminal cases.  Notably, nearly 63 percent of Alabama’s prison population is black.

“The right to vote is essential to our democracy, and that right must be meaningful for our system of government to function properly,” said Crowell & Moring partner Richard Schwartz.  His partner Keith Harrison explained, “We believe that African Americans must have an effective part in the election of appellate judgeships in Alabama. When judges are elected, equal justice under the law requires meaningful voting rights for all citizens, including Alabama’s African-American citizens.”

“The right to vote is the right from which all other rights flow,” said Michael Keats of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. “That right to vote takes on a special significance in electing the judges and justices who define our legal rights and obligations, who adjudicate our guilt and innocence. A judiciary elected through a racially-discriminatory system like Alabama’s, deprives African-Americans of their own voice in the administration of justice. That is illegal and this lawsuit will end that discriminatory system.”

To read the full complaint, click here.