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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Every Voter Counts

The ability to vote – to have a part in choosing the elected officials whose decisions impact our lives, families, communities, and country – is at the core of our democracy and what it means to be an American. Every American should have a voice in issues that affect them. Every voter counts. But under the guise of preventing so-called “voter fraud” and working in conjunction with advocacy groups, some governors and state legislators have passed laws making it harder for millions of Americans – especially students, seniors, and people of color – to register and to vote.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund, working with allies at the local, state, and national levels, is implementing a campaign to elevate and sustain a focus on voter protection and turnout; to strengthen the ability of individuals and organizations to overcome barriers to the right to vote; and to increase voter turnout among underrepresented populations that are the targets of voter suppression efforts.

FACT SHEET: A Campaign to Protect Access to the Polls and Encourage Voter Participation in 2012 (PDF)

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Election Protection Using Twitter to Defend Voting Rights

October 29, 2010 - Posted by Ron Bigler

This election season, Election Protection (EP), the nation's largest non-partisan voter protection coalition, will be using Twitter as part of its election monitoring activities.

EP is encouraging voters to send Tweets if they are experiencing problems at the polls such as "long lines, voter intimidation, suspicious behavior, voting machine malfunctions, and registration errors."

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Supporters Rally to Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Felons

September 17, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The National Black Law Student Association (NBLSA) hosted a rally today at the University of the District of Columbia in support of legislation that would restore voting rights to ex-felons.

Speakers at the event included individuals affected by felony disenfranchisement; members of the NBLSA; Katherine S. Broderick, dean of the University of the District of Columbia's Law School; and representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Kimberly Haven, executive director of Justice Maryland, described the feeling of having her voting rights restored due to Maryland's Voting Registration Protection Act: "My vote is my voice. My voice is my power."

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National Black Law Student Association to Hold Rally for the Democracy Restoration Act

September 14, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

On September 17, the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) will hold a rally in support of the Democracy Restoration Act (DRA) of 2009 from 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the University of the District of Columbia.

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Report Warns Foreclosure Crisis Threatens Voting Rights

September 8, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Last week, the Fair Elections Legal Network released a report detailing how the voting rights of many people with foreclosed homes may be in danger this election cycle unless Secretaries of State in each state take action. 

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New Report Calls for Elimination of 'Prison-Based Gerrymandering'

June 16, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The explosion of the prison population in recent decades is enabling towns where the prisons are located to unjustly increase their political power by counting inmates as legal residents, according to "Captive Constituents," a new report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).

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Congress Urged to Allow Former Inmates to Vote in Federal Elections

March 29, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, recently testified before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties and urged Congress to pass the Democracy Restoration Act.  

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The Democracy Restoration Act: Restoring the Right to Vote to Formerly Incarcerated Citizens

December 14, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Drug Policy Alliance, and The Sentencing Project are urging Congress to pass legislation that would restore the right to vote in federal elections to formerly incarcerated citizens.

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Henderson Receives Alexander Award for Work Advancing Civil and Human Rights

December 10, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Wade Henderson shaking hands with a man during a fundraiser

The Leadership Conference President and CEO Wade Henderson shaking hands with other guests at the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights' annual International Human Rights Day program on December 10, 2009.

The Leadership Conference's president and CEO, Wade Henderson, received the Cornelius R. "Neil" Alexander Humanitarian Award today from the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights for his commitment to advancing the civil and human rights of all Americans.

"The fact that this award commemorates Neil Alexander means a great deal to me. As the human rights commission's chief hearing officer for 20 years, Neil Alexander was a tireless and largely unsung champion of civil and human rights. Our city and the struggle for equal justice benefitted immensely from his legal expertise and his leadership in enforcing the District's human rights law," Henderson said in his acceptance speech.

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Henderson and Zirkin Honored in the Fight for D.C. Voting Rights

October 14, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Andrea Roane, Ilir Zherka, Nancy Zirkin, Wade Henderson, and Bruce Spiva posing with Champions of Democracy Award

(l to r) Andrea Roane of WUSA-9 News, DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka, LCCR Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin, LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson, and DC Vote Board Chair Bruce Spiva

Last night, LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson and LCCR Executive Vice President Nancy Zirkin were honored by DC Vote for their efforts to pass D.C. voting rights legislation.

Henderson, Zirkin and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D. Mich., were presented with 2009 Champions of Democracy Awards for their "dedication to fulfilling the promise of democracy for the Americans who call Washington, D.C., home." DC Vote also presented Akridge Real Estate, a Washington commercial real estate firm, with its Corporate Partnership Award.

In accepting the honor, Henderson, a D.C. native, emphasized the importance of continuing the fight to secure full voting representation in Congress for the District. "For all the progress we've made in D.C. and as a nation, my hundreds of thousands of neighbors in this city and I have been mere spectators to our democracy for more than 200 years. And that won't change as long as citizens of the District of Columbia continue to be deprived of the most important civil right that Americans have: the right to vote," said Henderson.

"This year, we came closer than we've ever been to securing voting rights for the residents of the District of Columbia...we still have a long way to go. But with your help and the efforts of DC Vote and the civil rights community, we'll get there," said Zirkin.

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Indiana Court of Appeals Declares Voter ID Law Unconstitutional

September 22, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The law, which is the most restrictive voter ID law in the United States, requires Indiana voters to present a government-issued photo ID, such as a state driver's ID or a U.S. passport, to cast a ballot. Provisional ballots are available to voters who don't bring a photo ID to the poll, but a provisional ballot will be counted only after the voter provides proof of identity at the local county election office within 10 days of the election.

In addition, driver's licenses and state-issued IDs must be renewed periodically, and people must re-register to vote whenever they move or change their name or the ID is not valid for voting.

A recent study conducted by the Washington Institute for Ethnicity and Race found that the highest percentages of eligible Indiana voters without a valid photo ID were minorities, seniors, young people, less-educated people, and low-income people.   Proponents of voter ID laws say that the laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud.  However, the study found no instances of voter fraud in Indiana.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the law does not violate the U.S. Constitution.  The appeals court looked at a different question – whether the law violated the Indiana state constitution.  Even though the law does not violate federal law, it does violate state law.  The state will likely seek a stay of the appellate court decision, delaying action until it comes under review by the Indiana State Supreme Court.

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Voter ID

States with laws on the books requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote are: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania (blocked for 2012 election), and Tennessee. Other states – Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire – also require a photo ID. Learn more.

Go to Election Protection at www.866ourvote.org to find out what your state is requiring to vote.

And check out the Voter ID "Map of Shame" to see where laws have been passed, been stopped, or still face legal challenges.

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