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.
Vigils are scheduled across the country Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and to protest the elimination if its most powerful provision.
At least three dozen events in 17 states – including one at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial within walking distance of both the Capitol and the White House in Washington – are sponsored by more than 30 state and national groups.
A listing of all the events can be found here.
This story has been revised after additional reporting.
Steadily if still softly, anxiety about the health of American democracy has become at least a secondary theme in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Proposals for restoring the public's faith in elections, and a sense of fairness in our governing system, have now earned a place on most of the candidates' platforms. And more and more of them have been including calls for democracy reform in their stump speeches.
To be sure, the topic has not come close to the top tier of issues driving the opening stages of the campaign. In the first round of candidate debates last month, for example, the contenders collectively spent less time talking about democracy's ills than eight other issues: health care, President Trump's record, immigration, social policy, economic inequality, gun control, foreign policy and the environment.
The 1965 federal law, modified five times since, that bans racial discrimination in state voting laws and legislative district mapmaking. It also created a system of special oversight for elections and redistricting in states and counties with histories of discrimination, which the Supreme Court effectively stopped in 2013. See preclearance and Shelby County v. Holder.