“No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live.”Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17 (1964)
SCSJ’s voting rights work protects the rights of communities of color by defending the Voting Rights Act through fair redistricting and minimizing elections administration practices that threaten free democratic participation in elections such as photo ID requirements, restrictions on voter registration and early voting, and Election Day voter challenges.
- Broaden citizen understanding of participation in the democratic process.
- Give people of color, who are not afforded fair representation, a voice in the redistricting process.
- Prevent the dilution of cohesive racial minority groups through packing voters of color into only a few districts, or cracking their neighborhoods among several districts.
- Help underrepresented constituencies achieve favorable public policy outcomes on a range of issues.
- Ensure transparency, accountability, and meaningful public participation in order to promote the legitimacy of the governing bodies subsequently elected.
SCSJ represents individual voters and civic engagement groups in litigation to protect the right to cast a ballot and to ensure that every eligible vote counts equally. We challenge voter suppression measures and unfair redistricting maps. We believe in zealous advocacy in the redistricting process to ensure the fair and full participation of all voters. We represent nonpartisan groups and people of color in local and statewide redistricting litigation across the South, including in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, and we have represented clients before the United States Supreme Court.
Our leadership shapes the legal doctrines defining racial gerrymandering, partisan gerrymandering, and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, with the ultimate goal of ensuring fair and equal election systems in the South.
SCSJ’s election administration work and policy advocacy focuses on protecting access to the ballot and monitoring legislative initiatives aimed at requiring photo ID at the polls, restricting voter registration, or otherwise disenfranchising voters. In addition to trainings on advocating for more early voting sites, SCSJ has provided legal support to help enforce state laws regarding the voting rights of persons with felony convictions or misdemeanants who are in jail.
SCSJ strives to link claims for minority representation with claims for fuller participation by all citizens. For example, voter ID requirements hinder effective participation by numerous groups, including young people, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. We also provide zealous advocacy in the redistricting process to ensure the fair and full participation of all voters. By demystifying the political and legal processes around redistricting, and providing models for more inclusive democratic structures, we hope to generate broader policy reforms that improve the democratic process overall.
SCSJ believes that voting rights secure the voices of people of color in critical decisions that affect local communities and that have the potential to create progressive social change. We provide counsel to local community groups regarding redistricting and we speak on behalf of clients at local town hall meetings and legislative committees.
Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement (SOLVE): SCSJ coordinates and is a member of SOLVE, a multi-state network formed in 2013 that facilitates collaboration and shares best practices in multidisciplinary advocacy, sound grassroots mobilization, and legislative and legal strategies to ensure fair and equitable voting practices. SCSJ also coordinates SOLVE’s annual convening.
Census and Fair Redistricting Schools: SCSJ is working with other groups to lay the groundwork for a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census, with a particular focus on ensuring the full participation of traditionally hard-to-count communities. We are also planning a series of redistricting schools that will educate communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South about redistricting practices that might limit their participation in the political process and build capacity in these communities to draw their own maps. The recipe for success in ensuring that the voting strength of communities of color does not suffer setbacks in the upcoming process includes establishing a collaborative framework to educate community organizations across the South about the new redistricting reality without the protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, to put technology and data analysis in their hands, and to assist in developing strategies to advocate for their rights in legislatures and, if needed, in the courtroom.