This Week in the Fight to Vote — Sept. 6 – 13

By Chris deLaubenfels, Director of Policy and Communications, Let America Vote

Closing time: Republicans shutting down polling places in the South

Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Republicans have been working overtime to suppress the vote of minorities. This week, The Leadership Conference Education Fund released a report, entitled “Democracy Diverted: Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote,” finding that nearly 1700 polling places have been closed in states that had formerly been subjected to the VRA’s preclearance clause (states with a history of racial discrimination in voting). Texas alone has closed 750 polling places! It’s almost as if the Voting Rights Act was preventing Republicans in Southern states from suppressing the vote of minorities.  These closures are a threat to our democracy–citizens need access to polling places and the ballot in order to exercise their right to vote.

State polling place closures since Shelby County v. Holder

Tennessee voter suppression bill blocked

Voters in Tennessee got a pair of great decisions from a federal judge this week. First, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled that a lawsuit challenging Tennessee’s law that places severe restrictions on voter registration drives could move forward. In that decision, Judge Trauger wrote “Restricting voter registration drives in order to try to preserve election commission resources is like poisoning the soil in order to have an easier harvest.” 

Then on Thursday, Judge Trauger granted the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking Tennessee’s extreme voter registration drive restrictions from going into effect. Tennessee already has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation, politicians should be focusing on ways to make registering and voting more accessible, not raising unnecessary barriers.

Sore losers: North Carolina Republicans still fighting against fair maps

North Carolina lawmakers began drawing new legislative maps this week to comply with the state court order finding that the former maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The North Carolina Republicans did not take their lost gerrymandered maps well and are essentially trolling the state court with their behavior. Surprising to no one, the Republicans’ first new map proposal gives them an advantage

Gerrymandering and minority rule

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Daley penned a column demonstrating how gerrymandering leads to Americans living under minority rule.  The op-ed notes that “[a] stunning number of Americans — more than 59 million — live under minority rule in a state where the party with fewer votes in the 2018 election nevertheless controls a majority of seats in the legislature.” Democracy does not work when the majority are subjected to rule by a minority who has rigged elections in their own favor. We need to continue fighting for fair maps across the country.

This week’s must read

Last Friday, The New Yorker published a disturbing article detailing the extent of voter suppression wreaked by Thomas Hofeller, the master of Republican gerrymandering, upon North Carolinians. Smoking gun files obtained by David Daley show that Republicans have been using gerrymandering and voter ID laws to rig elections by suppressing the vote of Democrats and minorities. We already knew that North Carolina Republicans were gerrymandering legislative maps based on race and partisanship, but this article made clear that the only reason North Carolina Republicans implemented an extreme voter ID law was to suppress the vote of Democrats and minorities. While this type of discrimination and voter suppression should be shocking, it is simply what we’ve come to expect from Republicans. It is undemocratic and un-American.