Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
Editor Note: While Blue Louisa's normal practice is to post Democratic and progressive content, these are not normal times. And it's why the Louisa Democratic Committee is working with groups like Indivisible Louisa, and Spread the Vote to get people to the polls.
And in the interest of informing our readers we will use whatever sources are appropriate including pushing the boundaries of "fair use" where up to 3 complete paragraphs from other sources can be used. And since it's impossible to provide links to The Central Virginian's articles to non subscribers, we have included one of their recent articles in it's entirety.
A national non profit is hard at work in Louisa County, helping to ensure voting rights for people in rural communities who may be affected by recent voter ID laws.
Kat Calvin, an Los Angeles based lawyer who gave up practicing corporate law to start the non-profit Spread the Vote after the election, was in Louisa last week to meet local activists who have joined her effort.
Calvin said that after the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, in which the United States Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the passage of voter ID laws in several states around the country, “It was pretty obvious what was happening.
“I kept waiting for [lawmakers] to start doing something about the fact that all these laws are clearly being passed to prevent certain segments of the population voting,” Calvin said, “And they never did.”
She said she watched as the 2016 presidential election unfolded, the first major election without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, and said that she could see it having a “clear effect,” as millions could not cast their ballots for a variety of reasons.
Studies from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University show that voter ID laws, ostensibly passed to prevent voter fraud, disproportionately affect poor, rural and minority voters. In its 2016 decision to strike down North Carolina’s strict voting procedures, the Fourth United States Circuit Court of Appeals said the state was targeting poor people of color with “surgical precision.”
Spread the Vote began in Georgia, where Calvin drove from Los Angeles, but she was also watching Virginia, another state that was protected under the Voting Rights Act and that has also since passed voter ID regulations.
In July, at the Virginia Women’s Conference, Calvin met local political activists Tammy Purcell, Juanita Jo Matkins, and Robin Patton, who are part of Indivisible Louisa, a grassroots group founded to resist President Donald Trump’s agenda, but who are also heavily involved in Spread the Vote.
“We never ask a person’s political affiliation,” Purcell said. “We’re not affiliated with any political party, and Spread the Vote is a completely non-partisan organization.” Patton said that Indivisible Louisa has partnered with Spread the Vote to bring voting rights and access to voter registration and identification to the whole Piedmont, not just Louisa.
“What we’re learning about the problem, we’re learning in Louisa County,” Patton said. “Here, we’re in a rural county where internet access is the worst. There’s no public transportation here. And so for people who don’t have a lot of economic means getting from place to place is a huge hurdle.”
Calvin said that a vital part of Spread the Vote is connecting with local activists and enabling them to help members of their community access the organizations that can provide them with the identification they need.
“We don’t just get voter IDs, because they are useless for anything except voting,” Calvin said. “We actually get state driver’s license IDs at the DMV. We actually have a brand-new client in Alexandria who said, ‘I want an ID so I can be a person again.’”
With the deadline for registering to vote in the 2017 elections coming up on October 16th, Spread the Vote is working hard to make sure all Virginians are aware of the time constraints and that all eligible voters are provided with the means and the documentation to do so.
“In Virginia,” Matkins said, “If someone didn’t vote in the 2016 election, they may not realize that they need a photo ID to vote.”
Spread the Vote plans to be at the Louisa County Fall Harvest Festival at Walton Park on Oct. 14, and anyone who is interested in volunteering with the organization or who may know of someone in need of their services can contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or can call or text them at (540)748-3945.
By Andrew Hollins
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