Faith leaders have been critical of stricter voter laws enacted over the past few years by Republican-led state legislatures across the country. At the NAACP's annual convention on Monday, President and CEO Benjamin Jealous likened such efforts in states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas to "the greatest wave of legislative assault on the right to vote in more than a century," according to the The Houston Press. In this video filmed earlier this year, Odyssey Networks explores both sides of the controversy through the prism of a new voter law in Tennessee that faith leaders there fought.
The faith community in Chattanooga, Tennessee recently launched a local voter empowerment movement to inform all eligible voters of changes to the state's voter registration laws. The reforms, which went into effect in January, require voters possess a valid government-issued photo ID, and in some cases, proof of citizenship. The early voting period was also reduced in length. "The ministers are leading this fight, because there's been a lack of information," says the Rev. Kenneth Love. "And many times the only way that we can get this information to the people is through the clergy." The voting law changes are an effort to disenfranchise the poor, elderly, students and minority groups, according to the faith community. Secretary of State Tre Hargett counters that these are simply steps to combat widespread voter fraud.
Pennsylvania Voter ID Case Opens in State Court - July 25, 2012 on The Washington Post
Source: Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law