Valencia Richardson

  • Hosted by Campaign Legal Center
  • Sponsored by Anonymous, Anonymous
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Georgetown University Law Center
  • Issue area Voting Rights/Electoral Participation
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Valencia will enforce voting rights in places in the South no longer subject to federal oversight under the Voting Rights Act (VRA), by challenging discriminatory polling place changes, voter purges, and registration denials.

More than 50 years since the VRA passed, voter suppression in the South has taken a new form. Stacey Abrams stated the modern problem succinctly: “part of the insidious nature of voter suppression is that it seems like voter error. This new voter suppression resulted from the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which rendered parts of the VRA null and ended federal oversight of jurisdictions with a history of discrimination. While voting rights advocates nationwide have stepped up to fill the gap left by Shelby, most new challenges under the VRA primarily focus on statewide practices. Unfortunately, many Southern localities have taken full advantage of this freedom from oversight to impose new, hyperlocal discriminatory practices that disproportionately impact minority voters every election.

A native Louisianan, Valencia has dedicated her career to enforcing voting rights in the Deep South.

Fellowship Plans

Valencia will represent communities that have suffered after Shelby by developing a model that will empower and assist these communities in challenging discriminatory local election practices on their own. She will focus on a few critical types of restrictions or practices that most directly affect voter access on Election Day: county-level voter purges, polling place consolidations or closures, and unduly strict voter registration rules that lead to excessive voter denial rates. Starting with Louisiana and Mississippi, Valencia will work in partnership with the communities to uncover the effects of Shelby County on the everyday voter in the South and use administrative advocacy, litigation, and community power-building to roll them back.

Growing up in one of the most segregated communities in the country made me an eyewitness to the injustice which results when fewer people participate in the democratic process.

Valencia Richardson /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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