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Legal Services Alabama provides testimony on barriers and access issues to voting for persons living in poverty to the Alabama Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Jaffe Pickett offering testimony to the Committee on Feb. 22. Photo credit: Alabama Advisory Committee.

Legal Services Alabama Deputy Director, Jaffe Pickett, provided testimony to the Alabama Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Thursday, Feb. 22.  The testimony focused on economic hardships of people in poverty and the difficulty they may face with fees for maintaining or reinstating photo identification, transportation to vote in rural areas and other barriers that may exist.

The Committee heard testimony from several academics, organizations and community leaders on obstacles to vote in Alabama and any disparate impact on citizens based on race, color, national origin, disability status, economic status or religion, or those that undermine the administration of justice. The objective of the study is to determine whether any changes in Federal law or policy are necessary to guarantee eligible individuals the right to vote.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent bipartisan agency charged with studying and advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters. 

Pickett made known the critical role LSA plays in providing access to justice to persons in poverty.  Testimony also included the working poor who must bear the cost of basic necessities such as food and rent, child care, transportation costs to work, and often do not have the luxury of public transportation in rural areas to and from voting locations.  “One of the primary factors in helping to break the cycle of poverty is maintaining employment.  LSA currently assists with driver’s license reinstatement, which is critical for employment and also provides community education on voter’s rights restoration with other partners throughout the state. The cost of reinstatement after a suspension or revocation often creates an economic burden for individuals living at or below the poverty level.  Individuals should at least know if they need to have their voting rights reinstated or if they already have a right to vote after re-entering their community and our community education and outreach includes education on voting restoration as well as consumer protection, foreclosure prevention, protection of the elderly, public benefits and domestic violence.”

LSA can provide information and education to elected officials and individuals on our services, funding and the effects of funding cuts. LSA does not lobby and cannot participate in the political process. 

 

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    LSA is a grantee of the Legal Services Corporation.