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The League of Women Voters Responds to Voter Suppression: Educate, Organize and Mobilize

Written by Peter Grear, Esq. on 10 January 2014.

With current references to the modern voter suppression and the disproportionate impact of Voter ID laws on women, the League of Women Voters are continuing their historic fight to ensure the voting rights of all people. Rooted in the movement that secured the right to vote for women, the League has worked to foster civic engagement and enhance access to vote since they  were founded in 1920. On its website, the League noted that over time its work has evolved from efforts to gain and foster women’s suffrage to ensuring that all eligible voters – particularly those from traditionally underrepresented or underserved communities, including first-time voters, non-college youth, new citizens, minorities, the elderly and low-income Americans – have the opportunity and the information to exercise their right to vote.

The Southern Coalition of Social Justice (SCSJ) is one of the entities that have sued the state of North Carolina for voter suppression.  One of the plaintiffs that they represent is Alberta Currie, the great-granddaughter of slaves. She, her parents and her children all worked picking cotton and tobacco in the fields of Robeson County, N.C. She is a 78-year-old mother of seven, and does not have a birth certificate because she was born at home.   The League has joined Alberta Currie as a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits brought against the state to protect voting rights.  It is important to note that the League is involved in protecting voting rights all across the country.  

Because voter suppression is a local, state and national issue, it is important that common fundamentals are developed to defeat it.  North Carolina voter suppression laws are known to be some of the most repressive in the country and this is one of the reasons it is important for us to establish a N.C. Model to fight it.  Additionally, as noted below, the repressive voter suppression legislation is modeled on legislation written and introduced by members of the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

We previously highlighted the attack on women voters in Texas, where Republicans, according to an article written by Jean Ann Esselink, along with attacking the voting rights of blacks, Latinos and college students, came up with a voter ID law that disproportionately affects women.  League members in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are noted to be aggressively engaged in protecting the right to vote.  It bears repeating that the 36 republican controlled legislatures around the country have been introducing and passing voter suppression and other hard right legislation based upon models created by the Koch funded ALEC.    

As I understand it, the Leagues around North Carolina are participating in local efforts to build coalitions as a part of their response to voter suppression.  I think that such coalitions are fundamentally necessary to having effective local and grassroots campaigns.  In North Carolina there was a community mobilization effort held in Orange County with presentations by Democracy N.C., a former N.C. State Senator, the League, Orange County African American Caucus and others.  This is the type of effort that must be replicated if voter suppression efforts are to be defeated. We’re organizing such an effort in New Hanover County with some of the same participants and plan to use Orange County’s effort as a guide.  United campaigns produce better ideas, more buy in to the effort and a much better change that there can be an orderly division of labor.  No matter how well intentioned individual organizations are, if the communities are not united in commonality of purpose, lots of time, energy and effort will be wasted and an already uphill battle becomes even more difficult.    

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In future coverage we will explore the amazing success of the Moral Monday Movement in bringing together a coalition to fight voter suppression and other right wing legislation.  As reported in Democracy Chronicles, on Saturday, February 8, thousands will gather again in Raleigh to protest North Carolina's hard-right attacks on teachers, the poor and against the worst voter suppression bill in the nation (http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/07/23/2340941/nc-voter-suppression). 

Find out more about the event here: (http://carolinajustice.typepad.com/hkonj/logistics.html).  

GDN covers news that is vital to unrepresented and underserved communities we need your financial support to help us remain viable.

Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News with a primary focus on voter suppression.  To join the campaign to defeat voter suppression please “Like” and follow us at www.facebook.com/votersuppression, “Share” our articles, and your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our website www.GreaterDiversity.com.  Also, to promote the campaign to defeat voter suppression, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to follow the above-referenced recommendations. Additionally, please follow us on Twitter at @yourrighttovote.