Chicago organizations push for federal voting rights bill

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago organizations are pushing Congress to act on voting rights legislation.

"There's been a lot of broad messages about the importance of our democracy in these critical times. There hasn't been a follow through on that lip service," said Ami Gandhi, senior counsel at the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.

In 2021 at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. That's more than any year since the nonpartisan law and policy institute, the Brennan Center for Justice began track voting legislation in 2011.

Karen Freeman-Wilson, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, believes the new laws target voters of color.

"You will see people not bother to vote because they believe that they can't gain access," she said.

Mark Hansen, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, said the dispute over voting rights is part of this country's history.

"They were really important disputes the period immediately after the Civil War where first of all African Americans were enfranchised," he explained.

Some of the same reasons for restricting voting have persisted, Hansen believes.

"Almost always the arguments for restricting voting rights had to do with the possibility of vote fraud," he said.

"In Illinois we have seen through programs like election day registration and automatic voter registration that we can open up access to voter registration and still have a secure election system," Gandhi said.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.