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Civil Rights Group Holds Hearing On Voter Issues

As primary elections draw near, the National Commission on Voting Rights has been holding a series of hearings across the country to address issues such as voter registration, voting discrimination and ballot accessibility for those with disabilities.

Voters and voting rights activists gathered in Philadelphia last week to share their experiences and the challenges they face when going to the polls.

Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, manager of legal mobilization and campaigns for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said a lot of concerns came from Pennsylvania’s deaf community.

“There was actually great representation from the deaf community and also the disability rights community with issues that they’ve encountered with not having interpreters at the polls,” she said.

Problems such as long lines at polling sites in minority communities; lack of accessible precincts for people with disabilities and discrimination against them, and the need for more rigorous training for polling site workers were some of the issues brought up at the public hearing.

Figueredo said the same problems keep popping up in every state.

“I think all of these are shedding that there are consistent systematic problems that are happening across the country,” she said. “Far too many people go to the polls on election day thinking that they are registered and are finding out that they are not.”

Figueredo said the Lawyers’ Committee is currently examining a report from the President’s Commission on Election Administration on how to solve voting issues like long lines at the polls.

This was the sixth in a series of nationwide hearings. The next is scheduled for Feb. 25 in Minneapolis, Minn.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."