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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Civic Groups Unite to Fight Against Voter Suppression Tactics in the South

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Thursday, May 25, 2023   

Civic groups are taking action against what they call voter suppression tactics in the South.

This week Alabama Values, Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement (SOLVE), and Groundwork Project joined forces with other organizations to discuss recent legislation such as Alabama House Bill 209.

The bill's provisions would forbid individuals from aiding in the distribution, ordering, requesting, collecting, obtaining, or delivering of an absentee ballot application or absentee ballot on behalf of someone else.

During the briefing, Dillion Nettles - policy and advocacy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama - said the bill also criminalizes civic organizations and individuals wanting to assist others in exercising their right to vote by limiting who can help get the ballots or applications.

"But that is a very narrow group of individuals," said Nettles. "You essentially have to be someone who works as an election official or works in the absentee election managers office, you have to be a next of kin of that individual, or someone who lives with them. "

If it passes, HB 209 would establish felony charges for people who break the law.

According to Kiana Jackson - research and coalition organizing manager at New Disabled South - this bill not only hinders organizations that facilitate voting accessibility, but also creates greater hurdles for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

"We know that about 7.5% of disabled people are not able to have a voter ID, compared to able bodied people at 4%," said Jackson. "So there are huge gaps in even how we vote but then particularly when we talk about accessibility and you're putting more and more barriers in place."

HB 209 is through the House and awaits action by the State Governmental Affairs Committee.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.




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House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

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