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The list of accusers against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues to swell. Also on the Tuesday rundown: Hurricane Florence SNAPs North Carolina to attention on the importance of food benefits; plus a new report says young parents need better supports.

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Minnesota Celebrates: Voting Rights Act Turns 50

Minnesota leaders celebrated 50-years of the Voting Rights Act, while looking forward to removing the remaining barriers to participation. Credit: hermosawave.
Minnesota leaders celebrated 50-years of the Voting Rights Act, while looking forward to removing the remaining barriers to participation. Credit: hermosawave.
August 6, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Voting Rights Act turns 50 years old today and while Minnesota is celebrating the historic legislation, it's also looking to the future on ways to remove remaining barriers and improve voter turnout.

Minnesota has historically been among the best in the U.S. for voter participation, but in the 2014 midterms the state fell out of the top five. Secretary of State Steve Simon says that can not become a trend because our vote is our voice.

"No matter what issue people care about the most, whether it's job or taxes or education or health care or environmental protection, all roads lead to the ballot box," says Simon. "Unless we have free and fair and open and honest elections, we're not going to get very far on any of those issues."

Simon says one way to improve participation would be for the state to allow early voting, which would especially help the elderly and those with disabilities. To get more young people involved, he suggests pre-registration for high school students, which would then get them on the voting rolls automatically as soon as they turn 18.

Those types of efforts to improve turnout and remove barriers will be detailed at an event tonight in the Twin Cities. Among those who will be in attendance is Jennifer Nelson, statewide organizer with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition.

She says Minnesota's faith community fought for the Voting Rights Act 50 years ago and continues to work for equality at the polls to this day.

"Helping the causes of the marginalized has always been very important in all the traditions of the faiths that the JRLC represents," says Nelson. "I think voting rights is a very obvious way where people are marginalized in a democratic society."

The Voting Rights Act was signed on August 6 of 1965 after winning approval in Congress. That included support from both of Minnesota's U.S. Senators and all eight of the state's members of the U.S. House, comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN