Get informed about voting rights

Steve McIntyre. The Galveston County Daily News – December 10, 2016

The November 2016 election was the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act at work to protect the right to vote of black, Latino, Native American, Asian and other voters of color.

On the evening of Nov. 7 at Reedy Chapel A.M.E. Church in Galveston just hours before Election Day, Senior Counsel Leah Aden from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York City presented a live nonpartisan training session entitled — “Prepared To Vote Election Protection Training Texas” that covered the recent federal court order striking down portions of the Texas Voter ID law as well as other efforts to preserve the voting rights of historically underserved Texas communities. Aden is on the team of lawyers who successfully defeated the State of Texas and obtained a favorable federal court order similar to the recent federal court orders striking down portions of the Voter ID law in Wisconsin and North Carolina.

The Galveston training session was organized by Gulf Coast Interfaith leader Cornelia Harris-Banks and was part of the efort of Election Protection, a national nonpartisan coalition formed to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. The coalition is made up of over 100 local, state and national partners and works year round to advance and defend the right to vote.

The local training was conducted in partnership with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, Gulf Coast Interfaith, Galveston Northside Task Force, Galveston Coalition for Justice, NAACP Galveston Council No. 6180 and LULAC Galveston Council’s No. 151 and No. 22270. In the last several years all of these groups except LCCRUL have been involved in reviewing, criticizing and filing objections with the United States Department of Justice to enforce the Voting Rights Act in Galveston County. Previous local action to enforce the Voting Rights Act can be found at the Gulf Coast Interfaith website under Democracy at the Resources and News buttons.

Copies of the Nov. 7th training session materials are available from Harris-Banks and extensive excerpts of the training session from the live TV broadcast of the training session on The “Not Your Ordinary Joe” Show hosted by GCI leader Joe Compian can be viewed at http://gulfcoastinterfaith.org/resources/democracy.

The basic material from this election eve training will remain relevant for many years but may be partially modified and expanded by U.S. District Judge Nelva Ramos in her upcoming final order addressing the serious violations of the Voting Rights Act by the State of Texas.

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