In response to the state's shit show of a presidential preference election back in March
, U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Ruben Gallego, alongside several community advocates, will host a voting rights forum in Phoenix on Wednesday.
To refresh your memory: Thousands of voters, mostly in Maricopa County, were either turned down at polling places because they were incorrectly registered as independents, or waited for hours and hours due to a massive cutback in voting locations.
At the panel, Kirkpatrick, Gallego and representatives of the African-American, Latino/Mexican American communities, the state's Department of Education, as well as other statewide leaders will discuss the need for local, state and federal efforts "to fully engage voters and prevent the March debacle from repeating in November's general election or in future election years," a press release from Kirkpatrick's office says.
The forum will also address the need for restoring the Voting Rights Act, which was weakened in 2013 by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder—a ruling that has been called “a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act.” In that decision, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged the persistence of voter discrimination and invited Congress to come up with a new coverage formula based on current conditions. Two bipartisan bills in Congress would do so, but leaders in the House and Senate will not take up either bill.
Among the panelists are, Cloves Campbell Jr., executive director of Arizona Commission of African-American Affairs, Debora Colbert, chair of Rep. Gallego’s African-American Advisory Council; Alex Gomez, co-director of Living United for a Change in Arizona, Dr. Ann Hart, chair of Women in NAACP, deputy associate superintendent of Arizona Department of Education
Francisco Heredia, national field director for Mi Familia Vota, John Lewis, former executive director of Intertribal Council of Arizona, and Daniel Ortega Jr., civil rights attorney and former chair of National Council of La Raza, according to the press release, which adds that the lineup is still being worked out.
Tucsonans, if you're able to attend, do so.
The forum takes place Wednesday, June 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church, 7040 S. 40th Street (remember, this is in Phoenix).