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Widespread poll closings found in places no longer subject to federal election oversight

Almost 1,700 polling places have been closed in counties that are no longer subject to federal oversight brought on by past voting discrimination, according to a new study that was highlighted at a congressional hearing Tuesday.

The poll closings, documented in the report Democracy Diverted by the Leadership Conference Education Fund, was one of several examples witnesses gave of what they say are discriminatory practices that have occurred since the Supreme Court voided a key part of the Voting Rights Act six years ago.

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They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming our Democracy

Organizer: Brennan Center for Justice

American democracy is in critical need of repair. Our politics are more divisive and more polarized than at any time in recent history. Lawmakers are beholden to wealthy donors, not to their constituents. Citizens' voices are silenced through the erosion of their civil rights. Beltway politicians, who have long neglected to address these problems, are partly to blame. But the increasingly uninformed American public bears responsibility as well. In his new book, They Don't Represent Us, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig charts the ways in which the fundamental institutions of our democracy respond to narrow interests rather than to the needs and wishes of the nation's citizenry. He explores the causes and consequences of "unrepresentativeness" and calls for significant reforms including public campaign funding, a reformed Electoral College, and a nationwide ban on partisan gerrymandering.

Location: Vanderbilt Hall, Greenberg Lounge, NYU School of Law, 40 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012
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Eighteen democracy reform groups have asked the chairman of the Democratic National Committee to focus at least one presidential debate on democracy reform issues.

Reform groups ask DNC to hold debate on plans to fix the political system

Eighteen groups promoting democracy reform sent a letter Tuesday to Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, asking for a presidential debate focused on the candidates' democracy reform plans.

"Whether it comes to addressing our climate crisis, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, ending gun violence, or any other issue Democratic candidates have been talking about on the campaign trail, the role of a healthy democracy in achieving those ends is undeniable," the letter states.

The groups who signed the letter are: Brennan Center for Justice, The Center for Popular Democracy, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy 21, The Democratic Coalition, End Citizens United, Equal Citizens, Indivisible, New American Leaders, New American Leaders Action Fund, New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, People for the American Way, Progressive Turnout Project, Protect Democracy, Public Citizen, Voices for Progress and Wolf-PAC.

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds had urged the state Legislature to restore voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences.

Iowans wrongly labeled as felons are being denied ballots

Iowa needs to work harder to clean up voter rolls that wrongly list people as felons, two voter advocacy groups say.

So many misidentified people have been prevented from voting in this decade that the Justice Department should consider sanctioning the state, the Brennan Center for Justice and the League of Women Voters of Iowa contend. Their warning was delivered in writing to Secretary of State Paul Pate in June and was reported last week by the Des Moines Register.

Iowa has one of the country's strictest rules on felon voting: They may not go to the polls unless they're pardoned by the governor or the president. GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds unsuccessfully pushed this year for the legislature to restore voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences.

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