The Southern Poverty Law Center is ponying up $30 million to help community organizations further their voter registration efforts.
The "Vote Your Voice" campaign, announced Tuesday, focuses on increasing registration and mobilization of voters of color in five states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Voting registration efforts across the country have taken a hit because of the coronavirus. Physical distancing and state lockdowns have made it difficult for organizers to do many of the usual voter registration pushes that take place during a presidential election year.
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More long lines, the smell of disinfectant and the sight of poll workers in rubber gloves are at the intersection of another big day of Democratic presidential voting and the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
As if there wasn't already enough public skepticism about the reliability of American elections, officials in six states were working Tuesday to assure voters they could participate in democracy's central rite and stay healthy at the same time — so long as they exercise common sense and basic hygiene.
The day began with some reassuring statistics. No confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota or Michigan, the biggest prize of the day. There's a single Covid-19 patient in Missouri. And the biggest state in the nation where everyone is permitted to vote by mail is Washington, meaning Democrats in the state that also has the biggest known coronavirus exposure so far — 19 deaths and another 100 or so confirmed cases — have no need to get near a voting booth on primary day.
The constitutionality of one of the nation's strictest curbs on felon voting was debated in a federal appeals court Tuesday.
A coalition of groups on both the left and right, from the ACLU and NAACP to the libertarian Cato Institute, have joined the cause of almost 200,000 Mississippians who have done their time but may never vote again without a governor's pardon or a reprieve from the Legislature. The state says it has almost limitless leeway under the Constitution to set those parameters.
However the case gets decided by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court could provide definitive word on the future of expanded voting rights for convicts, which has emerged as one of the top democracy reform causes of the decade.
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