The Supreme Court's controversial 5-4 decision last term striking down a key
provision of the Voting Rights Act that required eight states (mostly in the
South) to obtain permission from the Justice Department before changing their
election procedures has ushered in a new era of uncertainty. Since the
decision, several states have moved swiftly to impose new requirements on voters
and, in response, the Justice Department has vowed to challenge these new
requirements in court.
Our panelists will include Rahsaan D. Hall, Deputy Director of the Lawyers'
Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and Kevin C. Peterson, Executive
Director of the nonprofit New Democracy Coalition. As the director
of the Lawyers' Committee's Voting Right Project, Rahsaan is involved in
litigation seeking to achieve equality and protect advances in voting
rights. Kevin's New Democracy Coalition promotes political participation
and voting rights in minority neighborhoods through community organizing,
education, and policy reform.
We'll have an informative and lively discussion on the past, present, and
future of the Voting Rights Act and how to protect the right to vote.
Along the way, we'll address questions such as how the recent changes to the
Voting Rights Act impacts Massachusetts and the future of voting rights advocacy
in the Commonwealth, the accuracy and significance of Chief Justice Robert's
statement during oral argument that Massachusetts has the worst ratio of white
to African-American voter turnout in the country, and the new battles of voting
rights that are likely to take shape in the future.