AUSTIN – A coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is preparing for the November election by protecting voters’ rights in Texas and across the country.
Election Protection, a nonpartisan voter protection coalition, is working to preserve the rights of voters by responding to the concerns, questions and challenges they face about this year’s election. While Election Protection is a nationwide effort, specifically in Texas it is concerned about voter education and the court ruling of photo IDs to be discriminatory against certain voter groups.
“We are working with organizations on the ground in Texas, including the NAACP and others, to ensure that all voters will be able to successfully cast a ballot this election cycle,” Kristen Clare, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law told The Southeastern Texas Record. “We are particularly concerned about voter education in the wake of the recent Fifth Circuit ruling finding the Texas photo ID law to be discriminatory in its effect on African-American and Latino voters. It is important that voters know the new rules that will be in place and important election officials train poll workers on these rules as well.”
Election Protection has a hotline in place for voters who have concerns or questions in addition to field volunteers who are working on the ground in many areas. It has secured the support of several national partners and state advocates and looks to ensure that all voters have access to the ballot box come November and don’t face intimidation at the polls.
Some of the typical questions and concerns it sees from voters include where polling places are in their district as well as if they are registered as a voter for the election. “Voters call to confirm their polling place location or to check on their registration status,” Clare said. “We also received complaints about long lines, ballot shortages, and voter suppression efforts.”
Concern about the November election has been raised by Election Protection as this is the first presidential election where voters won’t has the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. This could mean last-minute changes to the voting process.
“We are concerned that voters in Texas and other states that were subject to the Act will be places where we see more voter suppression efforts unfold on Election Day,” Clare said.
The 1965 Voting Rights Acts was developed to prevent racial discrimination at the polls. In particular, Section 5 requires federal approval before changes can be made to the voting process so it doesn’t affect or limit the voting rights of minority groups.
“Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required states, such as Texas, to seek federal review of new voting changes,” Clare said. “Without that requirement in place, we may see 11th hour polling place changes or other late modifications of voting rules that could cause problems for voters on Election Day.”