National civil rights groups watching Georgia for voting problems

Georgia is one of five states being watched closely by national civil rights groups for voting problems, an effort that comes as the nation holds its first presidential election since the U. S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision in the national Voting Rights Act.

A report released Friday by the Leadership Conference Education Fund highlights among examples a legal fight last year in Georgia’s Hancock County, which involved what local elections official Marion Warren said Friday was a purge of African American voters. A federal court order reinstated many of those voters after groups including the Georgia NAACP and the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sued.

In all, the national groups are watching developments in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. The report, which was funded in part by groups including the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, comes during the 3rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision.

The decision overturned a federal elections mandate known as “Section 5” that required jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to seek approval from the Department of Justice or federal courts before making changes to voting rules.

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