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SPLC puts $100 million toward voter work in South

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Southern Poverty Law Center on Monday announced it is putting $100 million toward an effort to increase voter participation in the Deep South over the next decade.

The liberal organization’s Vote Your Voice program supports organizations working in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta will administer grants that can be used for civic engagement, build voter engagement ahead of the 2030 redistricting process and support efforts that help train and launch a new generation of political leaders, a statement said.

Margaret Huang, president and chief executive of the SPLC, said Voice Your Vote began as an effort to increase voter registration and turnout, “particularly in communities of color who would most benefit from a true inclusive democracy in the South.”

“However, to ensure a government exists that truly is ‘by the people, and for the people,’ we must expand our efforts to push against the anti-democratic statements and actions of many state and local officials in the Deep South,” Huang said.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, told WSFA he is concerned the money would be spent only encouraging liberal voters to turn out rather than all voters.

“It is a targeted effort to ensure that liberal special interest groups that have been targeted by the SPLC are identified and motivated to go to the polls,” Merrill said.

Tax forms show the Montgomery-based nonprofit organization reported $587 million in net assets in January 2020, an increase of nearly $45 million from a year earlier.

Several states, including Florida and Georgia, have implemented new voting restrictions that have become the subject of litigation.

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