Activists want debates to address issue of voter access

Dozens of civil rights groups want to shift the focus of presidential candidates from the early voting states to citizens’ voting rights.

A coalition of groups, led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, is pressing presidential debate moderators to ask candidates in both parties about protecting access to the polls.

The next opportunities for such questions will be on Nov. 6, when the Democratic candidates gather for a forum in South Carolina, and on Nov. 10, when the Republicans assemble at the Milwaukee Theatre for a sold-out debate hosted by the Fox Business Network.

“Voting is the language of our democracy,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the LCCHR. “Every candidate seeking our nation’s highest office must explain their position on the crucial voting rights legislation in Congress and say what they would do to make sure that no citizen is denied the right to vote.”

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, clearing the way for state-based campaigns to make it more difficult for certain populations to vote.

In Wisconsin, conservative lawmakers passed a voter photo ID law and reduced polling hours.

Legislation in the U.S. House and the Senate would strengthen the Voting Rights Act, but few presidential candidates have taken stands on the pending legislation.

The moderators for the Milwaukee debate — set to begin at 8 p.m. — are FBN managing editor Neil Cavuto, FBN markets editor Maria Bartiromo and Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker.

A news release from FBN said the debate would focus on “jobs, taxes and the general health of the economy, as well as domestic and international policy issues.”

Milwaukee to host GOP Debate

The GOP presidential candidates will debate in Milwaukee on Nov. 10. The main debate will be at 8 p.m. and the candidates in the lower tier will debate at 5 p.m. at the Milwaukee Theatre.

Calls to join a protest outside the theater on Nov. 10 went out in mid-October from the Black Lives Matter movement. Others organizing a protest include the Milwaukee Antiwar Committee, Youth Empowered in the Struggle-UWM, U.S. Palestinian Community Network-Milwaukee, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, UWM students for a Democratic Society, Iraq Veterans Against the War, No Drones Wisconsin, ACLU Student Alliance-Marquette, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Occupy Milwaukee and more.

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