by Nicole Flatow
To address increasing concern about restrictive new state voting laws, several House members are hosting a forum Monday, featuring leading legal and civil rights leaders.
The forum, “Excluded from Democracy: The Impact of Recent State Voting Law Changes,” will consider these laws’ potential to decrease voter participation and access to the ballot, especially for minority, low-income, elderly and student voters. According to a widely publicized report by the Brennan Center for Justice, laws passed in 14 states that require photo IDs, eliminate early voting and same-day registration, and impose other restrictions “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.”
“We are in a moment right now where we are seeing the most aggressive attempt to roll back voting rights in this country that we’ve seen in over a century,” said NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous, who will speak at the forum Monday, in a video about the cause and impact of the state voting laws by the Brave New Foundation and the Advancement Project.
Last week, two of the House members hosting the forum, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Administration Committee Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-Pa.), sent a letter signed by nearly 200 of their colleagues, calling on state officials “to oppose new state measures adopted over the last year that would make it harder for eligible voters to register or vote.”
Two other hosts of the forum, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called on the House Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings on the restrictive new measures.
Participants in the forum will include:
Ben Jealous, President and CEO, NAACP
Lee and Phyills Campbell, Smyrna, who were charged a fee in Tennessee when they tried to obtain a free voter ID, required under a new state law
Elisabeth MacNamara, President, League of Women Voters
Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice, co-author of the report “Voting Law Changes in 2012"
Laura Murphy, Director, American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office
Barbara R. Arnwine, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Matthew Segal, co-founder and President of OUR TIME and former Executive Director of Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE)
The forum will be held Monday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. at 2226 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.