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As the U.S. inches closer to the midterm elections, threats to voting rights persist: The rise of rampant voter suppression, racial gerrymandering, and disinformation further discourage and disenfranchise voters.
Since the beginning of 2021, at least 18 states have passed 34 restrictive laws that could create significant information gaps for voters and result in misinformation, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. These laws hinder people from voting by mail, reduce ballot drop boxes, impose stricter voter ID requirements, shorten voter registration time periods, and embolden partisan poll watchers.
What’s more, strategically calculated updates to district maps continue to dilute the voting power of people of color across the country. The watchdog site, All About Redistricting states that there are more than 14 states with active litigation cases that allege violations against the Voting Rights Act, or that race was a factor in how officials drew district maps. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Texas “intentionally eliminated a Latino electoral opportunity in Congressional District 23, a West Texas district where courts had identified Voting Rights Act violations during the previous two redistricting cycles.” Similarly, in Milligan v. Merrill, a federal court challenged Alabama’s congressional districts. Plaintiffs claim that race was the predominant factor when drawing districts, as evidenced by the “packing [of] one-third of Black Alabamians into the state’s 7th Congressional District and cracking the remaining Black community.” Plaintiffs further allege that the congressional district violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
But at the same time, movement groups and proximate grassroots leaders across the country are working at the state and local level to take these issues on through smart, innovative solutions. These leaders are boldly challenging ongoing waves of voter suppression, sometimes through protracted legal battles, mobilizing underrepresented communities to exercise their voting rights, tracking disinformation, and advocating for fair and equitable district maps.
Many of these leaders are grantees of Tides Foundation’s Healthy Democracy Fund (HDF). In this year’s election, Tides will continue to prioritize funding to more multi-issue, civic engagement organizations that are community-driven and serve in states where there are opportunities for BIPOC-led, local groups to protect election integrity, dismantle voter suppression, and create momentum in every election.
Read the full article about grassroots leaders protecting democracy by Liah Caravalho at Tides.