Congressman Steve Cohen explains discriminatory barriers for some in Tennessee

WATCH: Voting rights in Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Congressman Steve Cohen along with other Democrats from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee just finished hearing testimony in Memphis from witnesses talking about voter suppression.

The hearing took place at the University of Memphis' law school.

Witnesses said voter ID laws and voting purging create barriers.

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During their testimony, they also talked about laws making it tough for ex-felons to regain voting rights.

Members of the judiciary committee heard from several witnesses.

The goal is to pass legislation to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

"Tennessee is Ground Zero for voter suppression," said Tequila Johnson, Co-Founder and VP of the Equity Alliance.

Johnson's one of several witnesses who spoke during Thursday's hearing on voter suppression.

She traveled across the state of Tennessee working to get people registered to vote and said Tennessee has some of the most restrictive voting rights laws in the country.

"I learned from family and community members that polling locations in a predominately black neighborhood in Shelby County, Tennessee had closed and the nearest location was more than 20 minutes away in a predominately White neighborhood."

Voters did not have transportation. "As a result, many just did not go out to vote," Johnson explained.

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Congressman Steve Cohen and other members of the U.S House Judiciary Committee are working to pass legislation to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Several years ago, the U.S Supreme Court Ruling made the provision hard to enforce and voters said it creates barriers.

"Racial discriminatory barriers have taken place since Jim Crow. Examples include discriminatory photo ID laws, polling place closures, relocation," said Cohen.

Tennessee legislature passed a law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls.  Witnesses said the law impacts many black voters who do not have a government ID.

"The intention is to pass a replacement voting rights act, the next voting rights act in the house before the end of the year," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

"We're seeing and why we come to different jurisdictions is to see how glaring purging is across the nation that is evident that in the 21st century we are purging people, to see how frequent they're closing polling places in communities mostly of color," said Congresswoman Shiela Jackson Lee of Texas.

Members of the committee area are required to hold a number of hearings before any additional steps can be taken.