Delaware group uses 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act to push same day voter registration

 A supporter for same day voting registration at rally in Wilmington. (John Mussoni/WHYY)

A supporter for same day voting registration at rally in Wilmington. (John Mussoni/WHYY)

Standing on the site of Peter Spencer’s first African Union Methodist church, a coalition of groups pushed for same day voter registration.


Senate Bill 111 is sponsored by Senator Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington. 

It allows for same day voter registration and lifts voter restrictions on convicted felons.  The current law calls for voters to register at least three days before an election.

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The federal voting rights law was passed capping a year of sweeping social legislation from with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the creation of Medicare.

A coalition of groups called for the passage of the Delaware law claiming that even with all of the advances made in the last 50 years there are still roadblocks put in the way for poor and minorities to vote.

They cited the federal court ruling Wednesday which threw out a Texas law calling for a voter identification card before going to the polls.

Sen. Henry was joined by Wilmington City Councilwoman Sherry Dorsey Walker, representatives of the Sierra Club, the Delaware Center for Justice, and Rachel Livingston of Mother Africa Union Church.

“We remember those who decided to rise above a system whose main goal was to humiliate, oppress and objectify a whole race of people,” said Livingston.

Senate Bill 111 was approved by the Senate Administrative Services and Election Committee on June 11th, but it never made it to the Senate floor.  The bill is still viable when the Delaware legislature goes back into session in January.  If it passes the Senate the bill would then go to the House.

The Wilmington event was held on Spencer Square.  It’s where Peter Spencer built the first African Union Methodist Church in 1813.  Historians say his work was inspired by the passage of the U.S. Constitution.

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