Voting Rights 'Map of Shame' Director Talks Voter Suppression
1 year ago
Lawyers' Committee executive director Barbara Arnwine explains the fight for the right to vote
Barbara R. Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the national non-profit that provides legal for those experiencing racial discrimination, is helping leading the charge against voter suppression for the upcoming 2012 elections. Through their Voting Rights Project, the Lawyers’ Committee has been in court and online attacking restrictive and punitive voter ID laws, as well as pending bills that are proliferating throughout the country. We spoke with Arnwine about the Lawyers’ Committee “Map of Shame,” which exposes states that have passed anti-voting rights laws, and about their game plan for the road to fair and free elections in 2012.
Loop 21: How has the Map of Shame been received and what are your next steps and end goals for it?
Barbara R. Arnwine: To empower people to use the new interactive version# as an organizational tool so that they can learn about how these laws are changing, and what they can do about it. For example, I just spoke at the NAACP national convention where there were active, civic-minded people yet they were surprised when I showed them the Map of Shame. They shook their heads in disbelief. It’s very clear that the word on this physical assault hasn’t filtered down yet. People find the interactive version very helpful. They’re able to find the worst states and figure out what they need to do, and who they need to contact. There’s a lot of good information that people are using.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood used it at the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice on Saturday. He had the big blowup version of it and spoke about it during his speech. And there were groups not affiliated with us that were passing it around as well. I want to make sure everybody knows about it and understands that so many legislatures are passing these discriminatory laws. Five million voters are already at risk of not being able to vote.
Loop 21: Could you share the current status of any pending lawsuits against battleground states you’re suing?
Arnwine: We currently have a lawsuit filed in federal district court and it’s just now proceeding. We are trying to overturn four provisions that will have an adverse impact on Latino, black, and other minority voters. For instance, they restrict a person’s ability to move from county to county and retain their registration. Early voting is also under assault, and not only in Florida but other places as well.