For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Kristen Voorhees, voorhees@civilrights.org, 202.548.7166

The Leadership Conference Urges Congress to Protect Equal Access to Voting

WASHINGTON - Leigh Chapman, voting rights program director at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, will testify today before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on “Protecting the Right to Vote: Best and Worst Practices.” Chapman’s testimony emphasizes the serious threat poll closures pose to achieving equal access to the ballot and discusses other efforts to stifle the voices of our most vulnerable communities.

“Our democracy works best when everyone, no matter who they are, what language they speak, or their race or ethnicity, can fully participate,” Chapman says. “The ability to participate in civic life – to have a voice in choosing the elected officials whose decisions impact our lives, families, and communities – is at the core of what it means to be an American.”

Chapman’s testimony details the erosion of voting rights protections in recent years, particularly after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. Since Shelby, polling place closures have emerged as a common tactic for disenfranchising voters and have resulted in silencing voters of color more than any other group. These closures also caused longer lines, limited physical access to voting, and imposed other pernicious burdens on voters from already-marginalized communities. Her testimony cites chilling numbers from The Leadership Conference’s 2016 report, “The Great Poll Closure,” which shows widespread polling place closures in states previously covered by the VRA after the law was gutted.

Chapman’s testimony also discusses the importance of access to early voting and how it helps ensure participation from very eligible voter. Finally, she proposes concrete policy recommendations to strengthen and protect every American citizen’s right to vote, including restoring and updating the VRA, better data collection and notification of voting changes, instituting early voting, and robust funding for voter impact studies.

Read her full testimony.

View the live stream of the hearing.

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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 civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals.

The Leadership Conference is a 501(c)(4) organization that engages in legislative advocacy.  It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.

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