Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NAACP Leads Fight Against Voter Suppression Tactics

My favorite era in American history was known as 'Reconstruction'. This was the era after the end of slavery when our nation had more African Americans in congress, Senate, state legislatures and statehouses than any other time in our nation's history. Of course, the white power structure couldn't stand to see people of color doing so well in politics ... so they began to find ways to 'block the vote'. Poll taxes. Counting jellybeans in a jar. White sheets and hoods. The era of 'Jim Crow' came into fruition and Blacks were driven out of congress, Senate, state legislatures and state houses.

Fast forward to 2008. The first election of an African American to the presidency. An unprecedented number of Black and Latino voters. The white power structure couldn't stand to see people of color doing so well in politics ... so they again began to seek out ways to 'block the vote'. Several states have passed laws requiring voters to present specific types of photo identification and proof of citizenship to vote; creating new rules for voter registration drives; reducing early voting days and voter registration periods; and further preventing ex-felons from voting. 'James Crow, Esquire' hopes to drive President Obama out of the White House.

There are 14 states who have passed such laws this year: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

These are some the findings documented by the NAACP in their recently-released report: 'Defending Democracy'.

The NAACP collected this information about early voting advocacy by Black churches in Florida, hoping to convince the Justice Department to strike down a slew of new state voting laws it claims are intended to thwart growing minority participation at the polls ahead of next year’s presidential election.

NAACP President Ben Jealous said the NAACP wants to diligently document how the laws affect African Americans and Latinos, and provide the attorney general ample evidence for finding the laws unconstitutional.
"In some ways, these tactics are not Jim Crow. They do not feature Night Riders and sheets … This is in fact, James Crow, Esq.,” said the Rev. William Barber, NAACP North Carolina president and a pastor. ”...Jim Crow used blunt tools. James Crow, Esq. uses surgical tools, consultants, high paid consultants and lawyers to cut out the heart of Black political power."
For example, a law passed in Florida reduced its early voting period from 14 to 8 days, including the last Sunday before Election Day.

In 2008, 54 percent of Black voters in Florida cast their ballots early, and Blacks comprised 32 percent of the entire statewide turnout on the last Sunday before the election, said Ryan Haygood, director of political participation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
"It’s widely known in Florida that Black churches would organize what they called ‘Get Your Souls to the Polls’ where they urged their members, after fulfilling their spiritual duties on Sundays to discharge their civic ones by voting," Haygood said.
Florida’s Black and Latino populations grew during the past decade, inching it closer to being a majority-minority state.

Supporters of the new laws, including at least one group funded by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, have said the new laws are designed to prevent voter fraud. Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said voter ID laws have wide support, including in the Black community.
It’s hard for me to believe a serious group like the NAACP would come out to say there’s some grand conspiracy to deny people the right to vote,” von Spakovsky said.
Actually, the only person in the Black community that I know who is supporting these 'voter suppression' efforts is Artur Davis. Anyhow, the NAACP has planned a protest march and rally that will start at the Koch brothers’ offices in New York on Saturday. This blog encourages all 'villagers' in the New York area to participate in this protest march.

We also encourage all 'villagers' to sign the online 'Stand for Freedom' pledge.

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