This Week in the Fight to Vote – August 31 – September 6

By Chris deLaubenfels, Director of Policy and Communications, Let America Vote

North Carolina: Gerrymandered maps OUT. Fair maps IN.

On Tuesday, voting rights advocates received the best news on gerrymandering in a long time. Three state judges in North Carolina struck down the state’s legislative maps as a partisan gerrymander, because the maps “do not permit voters to freely choose their representative.” In finding that the legislative maps violated the state’s constitution, the court found that North Carolina Republicans gerrymandered legislative maps on a partisan basis with “surgical precision[.]” Thanks in large part to election victories in recent years giving the state Supreme Court a 6-1 Democratic majority (state judicial elections matter!), the North Carolina GOP lawmakers are not appealing the decision. 

North Carolina lawmakers must now draw new legislative districts by September 18. This means that, after a decade of voting under discriminatory legislative maps, North Carolina voters will cast their ballot under a fair map in 2020! 

Due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Rucho v. Common Cause, North Carolinians will still be forced to vote under an unfair, discriminatory congressional map in 2020. However, in light of this week’s state decision, voting rights advocates are considering challenging the congressional districts as a partisan gerrymander. This week’s decision also provides a blueprint for how voting rights advocates can use state court’s to fight to end gerrymandering!

ACLU takes on Tennessee voter suppression

Last Friday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Tennessee’s secretary of state seeking to stop a voter suppression law from going into effect. The law at issue imposes criminal and civil penalties on grassroots voter registration organizations if they return incomplete voter applications or fail to comply with certain regulations. The law is simply trying to suppress the vote by making it harder for voters to register. Tennessee already has the 2nd lowest voter turnout in the country and Republicans are just trying to make it harder to vote. We need to make elections more accessible, not raise unnecessary barriers to the ballot.

Young voting advocates putting in work

Last week, David Ledbetter, a North Carolina teen, went viral for registering people to vote while they were waiting in line for the new Popeye’s chicken sandwich. Can’t knock the hustle! We hope the Popeye’s chicken sandwiches are back soon so organizers can register more voters in the long lines.

This week, young activists organized a back-to-school voter registration drive at colleges across Minnesota. The organizers focused on registering students at 2-year colleges and technical schools, whose students often have lower voter turnout rates than students at four-year universities. This is a great way to educate and engage young voters.

September is voter registration month, so make sure you are registered here. If you want to get involved in registering your fellow citizens to vote, check out Rock the Vote’s Voter Registration Guide

Let America Vote endorses Mayor Joyce Craig

On Thursday, Let America Vote announced its endorsement of Mayor Joyce Craig in her campaign to be re-elected as Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire. While New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Republicans are doing all they can to suppress the vote in New Hampshire, Mayor Craig is a strong leader fighting for the right to vote. Mayor Craig is dedicated to fighting for fair, free, and accessible elections for the people of Manchester, and we are excited to support her in her election this November.

Learn more about Mayor Craig here.

This week’s must read

This week, The Guardian published a look into how Georgia Republicans are abusing their power to suppress the minority vote. Georgia Republicans are using their political power to investigate and intimidate voting rights organizations, political opponents, liberal-leaning groups, and get out the vote organizers in minority communities. “Because we don’t see the night stick, because we don’t see the teargas, it doesn’t register for us as intimidation. But it is just as powerful, just as malignant, just as malevolent … the whole point is that blacks get hurt worse than whites,” said Carol Anderson a professor at Emerson University.