With less than a week to go before “Super Tuesday,” a coalition of civil rights groups is working to make sure that everyone eligible can cast a vote.
Election Protection, which represents more than 100 civil rights organizations across the U.S., is concerned with the recent surge of restrictive voting laws in some states following the 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted a Voting Rights Act provision.
“We’ve come to see a lot of stress when it comes to accessing the ballot box,” Kristen Clarke, the executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a conference call Wednesday. “This is the first election in 40 years without the Voting Rights Act.”
Experts say that Latinos are particularly at risk when it comes to issues at polling stations, especially given that the 2016 presidential election is expected to draw a record number of new Hispanic voters to the polls.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) said that there are 27.3 million eligible Latino voters in the U.S., with 13.1 million currently registered to vote, and officials at the organization say one of the biggest barriers Hispanics face is finding out how to register to vote or if they are registered.
“Folks are just not getting the information about how to register, where to register or how to find out if they are registered,” Arturo Vargas, NALEO’s executive director told Fox News Latino.
Vargas added that the restrictive voting laws in certain states are another impediment to Latinos heading to the polls.
“States like Texas are making it more difficult and raising the bar on who can vote,” he said.
Texas’ voter ID law requires voters to present photo identification when they head to the polls, but put sever restrictions on what type of identification can be used. For example, a gun license is a permissible form of identification, but a school ID is not.
“The Voter ID law has put an undue burden on minority voters and voters of color,” said Jose Garza, a voting rights attorney based in San Antonio. “Voting is not a privilege, it’s a right.”
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last summer that the law does have a discriminatory effect on poor and minority voters.
Texas was allowed to use the voter ID law during the 2014 elections, thereby requiring an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters to have a photo ID. The Justice Department argued that the Texas law, considered one of the toughest voter ID measures in the country, would prevent as many as 600,000 voters from casting a ballot because they lacked one of seven forms of approved ID.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.