John Oliver Takes On Voting Rights

The presidential primaries are in full swing and The PBEye was pleased to see that John Oliver kicked off season three of Last Week Tonight with a timely segment about voting rights. He took aim at states that have implemented voting restrictions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which weakened the Voting Rights Act. According to Oliver, “Since 2011, seven states have curtailed early voting and 13 have added requirements that voters show some kind of ID at the polls.”

After showing clips of state lawmakers claiming that these new voting requirements are simply common sense measures that will not affect a large number of people, Oliver is quick to point out that there are, in fact, many individuals who do not have identification and that the restrictions disproportionately affect minorities. He then proceeds to dismiss the argument that strict voter identification laws are necessary to combat voter fraud by showing that actual instances of voter impersonation are statistically insignificant.

As we have previously reported, pro bono lawyers are at the forefront of non-partisan legal efforts to ensure that all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot box and to cure legal flaws in the election system, which threaten the accuracy and legitimacy of the voting process. The quickly approaching 2016 PBI Annual Conference will feature a “Pro Bono in Practice” session, The Challenges of Citizenship: Election-Related Pro Bono Opportunities, on Thursday, March 24. Join us for a timely and wide-randing discussion of how pro bono efforts play important roles at all levels of the election protection, voting rights, and reform processes on Election Day and all year round.

As Oliver so aptly stated in his segment, “Voting is a right. If you take it away, you ruin democracy.” Check out the video and we hope to see you at the session.