Civil Rights Leaders Urge Protection of Voting Rights and Counting Every Vote

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WASHINGTON – Leaders from civil rights groups today discussed the importance of protecting voting rights for all following the midterm elections and ongoing ballot counting across the country. Issues covered included expanding language access, historic barriers to voting for African-American and Latino voters, election protection, and the importance of restoring the Voting Rights Act.

Audio from the call is available here.

“Ensuring that every eligible voter in America can cast a ballot is critical for the integrity of our democracy,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “As we look to 2019, we must confront this crisis of democracy. We must lead the work to improve election administration and protect people’s fundamental right to vote.”

“As our demographics increase and the Asian American electorate becomes more engaged, it is imperative to remove the barriers to voting that exist for our community,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “For Asian Americans, language is often a barrier to voting. We must make sure those who are responsible for enforcing current voting rights laws, including provisions that allow for language access, are held accountable for enforcing them in a fair and equitable manner.”

“This year’s election season should be a warning to all Americans that restoring the Voting Rights Act to its full strength is imperative,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “Without the protections the Supreme Court struck down five years ago, voter suppression tactics have become pervasive from North Dakota to Florida. The new Congress must put true election integrity at the top of its agenda by protecting every American’s right to vote.”

“Too many voters experience barriers, discriminatory hurdles and outright voter suppression in our elections today and it is critical that we now turn to the hard work that will be necessary to address these issues in advance of the 2020 election cycle,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This election cycle, we have seen election officials abusing their discretion and resorting to minutia as a basis for rejecting absentee and provisional ballots cast by eligible voters. Officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia who were bent on rejecting absentee ballots en masse as a result of an alleged signature match and former Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s exact match scheme are emblematic of the problems that we fought through litigation this election season. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law leads Election Protection, the nation’s largest and longest-running voter protection effort. Through Election Protection, we responded to calls from more than 31,000 voters from around the country on election day, and close to 5,000 since that time and the unifying theme is that these voters want to ensure their vote is counted. To make our democracy stronger, we must eliminate voter suppression root and branch.”

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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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 to “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.