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ReThink Media: Democracy Wins of the Week

August 24, 2017

From ReThink Democracy comes a list of “Democracy Wins of the Week,” their listing of good news for those of us who seek to strengthen American democracy:

The past two weeks have been a great reminder of the continued relevance of the federal Voting Rights Act. Four separate federal court rulings found election practices in Texas and Louisiana to be in violation of the of the 52-year-old civil rights legislation.

First, a U.S. district judge in Baton Rouge determined “the system for electing state judges in a coastal Louisiana court district discriminates against black voters.” Second, a three-judge panel in San Antonio ruled Hispanic voters were “intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice” in one congressional district in Texas. The same panel struck down a different congressional district because lawmakers illegally used race as the predominant factor in drawing it. Third, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals eliminated an illegal barrier for English-limited voters seeking language assistance at the polls. Finally, a U.S. district judge rebuked Texas yet again, the third time this month and the eighth time since 2011, by permanently blocking the latest version of the state’s voter photo ID law. Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that the law was enacted with the deliberate intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters.

The Voting Rights Act wasn’t the only shining star in recent weeks. Last Tuesday in Alabama a number of previously disenfranchised voters were able to cast ballots for the first time in years as a result of a new law passed earlier this year. While many individuals still remain wrongly disenfranchised in the state, the law provided clarity to thousands of eligible voters who had previously been convicted of felonies. Willie G., who voted for the first time last week, called it a beautiful experience and an opportunity to “feel like somebody.”

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