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The NAACP will participate as a plaintiff in case challenging Indiana’s SB 220

 BALTIMORE (August 10, 2017) – Today, the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the State of Indiana, its general assembly, and various election officials challenging Indiana’s SB 220 as violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In August 2017, the Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb, signed into law Senate Bill 220, which requires Lake County – home to the second largest African-American population and largest Latino population in the state – to consolidate polling locations that had 600 or fewer active voters assigned to that location as of November 1, 2016. Senate Bill 220 applies only to Lake County and would not require any other county in the state to make such provisions.

Of the 522 election precincts in Lake County, more than half are at risk of consolidation that would cause:

  • An increase in the time and effort voters have to expend to determine their new polling location
  • An increase in the distance and time required to travel to new polling locations
  • A reduction in the number of precinct committee-persons in Lake County (and thereby reduce representation in local and state offices)

Precincts with heavily black and Latino populations, including Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago, would be disproportionately affected. “The intent of this bill is clear: to discriminate against black and Latino voters,” said Derrick Johnson, Interim President and CEO of the NAACP. “It was only decades ago that black Americans were regularly denied the right to the ballot box, whether they were turned away at the polls or not even permitted to register to vote. As the foremost social justice organization, we will continue to take legal action to block any malicious attempts to suppress votes of Americans of color.”

The NAACP staunchly opposes any scheme to infringe on voters’ rights, whether the tactic be Indiana Senate Bill 220 or President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. “Unlike voter fraud, voter suppression is real and rampant in 2017 America. The NAACP remains ever vigilant and ever ready to fight back,” added Johnson.

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