2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

Learn More & Apply

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 enforced voting rights in places in the South no longer subject to federal oversight under the Voting Rights Act by challenging discriminatory voting practices. Valencia’s work has resulted in the implementation of Election Day and early voting access in local governments in the South and across the country.

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.” While voting rights advocates nationwide have stepped up to fill the gap left by 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, most new challenges under the VRA primarily focus on statewide practices. Unfortunately, many Southern localities have taken full advantage of the 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

During the two-year Fellowship, Valencia:

  • 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 and Mississippi to advocate for better polling places and highlight discriminatory in-person voting access problems in the state
  • Drafted letters to the Biden administration about ways that the federal government can provide direct services to citizens in providing voting rights resources to eligible voters
  • Represented clients in the first state case in Washington state enforcing the Washington Voting Rights Act
  • Authored two amicus briefs in support of the federal Voting Rights Act
  • Initiated several investigations into local election practices in counties across the South

Next Steps

Valencia will continue to promote equitable voting access and challenge discriminatory voting practices in the South and across the country as Legal Counsel, Voting Rights at the Campaign Legal Center. She will grow her local election administration practice and develop creative legal strategies to challenge discriminatory voting practices.

Media

In Alabama, Voters and Nonpartisan Civic Engagement Groups Deserve a Voice

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

Meet Other Fellows Like Valencia

View All

Laura Dobbs

Host: Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Sponsor: The Selbin Family

Photo of Kwame Akosah

Kwame Akosah

Host: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Ottinger Family Foundation

Joanna Cuevas Ingram

Host: Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

Sponsor: Anonymous

Richael Faithful

Host: Advancement Project

Sponsor: Anonymous