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Groups partner to improve local elections, Lydia Wheeler, The Hill (04/05/18)

The education arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is teaming up with a voting rights group to increase voter turnout and fix polling problems that keep people from voting. 

The Leadership Conference Education Fund announced Wednesday that it’s partnering with Access Democracy for three years to provide institutional support in the group’s efforts to fix local election issues like long lines and broken voting machines. 

“We need to ensure the right and ability to vote is protected at all levels, and this new collaboration will help ensure just that,” Vanita Gupta, The Education Fund’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“The right to vote is foundational to our democracy, but if eligible voters face insurmountable obstacles to exercise that right, it is meaningless. For too long, African Americans and other communities of color have faced systemic barriers to accessing the ballot.”

Access Democracy uses data to pinpoint voting problems in specific counties or cities and helps find solutions like advocating for additional early voting locations, ensuring that polling places have enough voting and making sure that technological improvements like online voter registration are equally, effectively and securely implemented.

The Education Fund, meanwhile, has worked to advocate for the need to restore the Voting Rights Act and modernize the nation’s election systems.

Miles Rapoport, senior practice fellow in American Democracy at the Harvard Kennedy School, called the partnership an excellent development for the field of democracy protection and reform.

“The partnership brings together Access Democracy's innovative problem-solving and The Leadership Conference Education Fund's longstanding experience and standing in the civil rights community to tackle a critical voting rights problem,” he said in a statement.