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.
The new law requiring felons in Florida to pay all their fines and court fees before getting their voting rights restored would leave about 80 percent of them unable to register, according to research that is part of a legal challenge to the law.
Professor Daniel Smith, chairman of the University of Florida political science department, also found that black convicts would be more likely to be left on the sidelines during elections than white convicts.
Smith submitted his testimony on behalf of several convicted felons who would be blocked from restoring their voting rights as well as the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
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.
Voters in counties that were once under federal oversight because of past election discrimination are being purged from the registration rolls at much higher rates than other counties, according to new research.
The Brennan Center for Justice, in a report released this week, examined the culling of registered voters by state officials across the country in the previous three years. One aim was to see what had happened in the years since the Supreme Court struck down as antiquated the system for deciding which states and counties would require Justice Department approval before making any changes to election procedures – such as purging of voting lists.
This "preclearance" requirement, a central part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, applied to eight states in the South and parts of six other states where there was a history of racial discrimination in the political process.