Valencia Richardson

  • Hosted by Campaign Legal Center
  • Sponsored by Anonymous, Lavan-Harris Charitable Fund
  • 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 enforces voting rights in places in the South no longer subject to federal oversight under the VRA by challenging discriminatory voting practices.

More than 50 years since the Voting Rights Act (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, though, 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 Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Valencia has:

  • Represented a Native American tribe in Arizona in a lawsuit to obtain an early voting site on the reservation.
  • Developed an advocacy resource tool for organizers in Louisiana to advocate for better polling places and highlight discriminatory in-person voting access problems in the state.
  • Drafted letters to the Biden administration regarding ways the federal government can provide direct services to citizens by providing voting rights resources to eligible voters.
  • Strategized on ways to help organizers advocate for an early voting location in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
  • Represented clients in the first Washington state case to enforce the Washington Voting Rights Act.

Next Steps

In the next six months, Valencia plans to:

  • Publish additional advocacy resources in Mississippi and Alabama for organizers, promote better voting rights enforcement at the local level, develop litigation strategies for polling place advocacy in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brnovich v. DNC.
  • Work with organizers to develop an organizing strategy for specific localities of interest.
  • Continue ongoing litigation.
  • Train local organizers on other areas of voting rights enforcement, including redistricting.

Media

New York Joins Other States in Approving State-Level Voting Rights Act

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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