Clemente Torres has proudly cast his vote in person at Dodge City’s lone polling place in every election since he became a naturalized citizen 20 years ago. This year is different. After Republican officials said in September they would move the Hispanic-majority city’s only polling place to a remote spot outside the city limits, across railroad tracks and away from bus lines, Torres decided to vote by mail. “I wanted to be sure I could vote,” said Torres, 57, who works at a meatpacking plant in this western Kansas city best known for its history as a Wild West outpost. “I didn’t want to take any chances.” Torres and other voters interviewed by Reuters said they were worried voting would be more difficult at the new location. Some were skeptical of the official explanation: that construction will hinder access to the usual site. The move sparked an outcry from voting rights groups that say Republicans are trying to limit Hispanic votes. The American Civil Liberties Union asked the courts to force Dodge City to open another polling site – a request denied by a judge on Thursday.
Democrats are mobilizing to rent vans, line up volunteers to drive people to the polls and set up a hotline to ask for rides.
Kansas is just one front in a broad national struggle over voting restrictions passed by Republicans, who say they are needed to combat voter fraud.
Democrats and advocacy groups are scrambling in courtrooms and on the ground to resist efforts they say will stack the deck against minority voters likely to back Democrats in next Tuesday’s elections, where control of the U.S. Congress will be at stake.