Since late September 2013, Patricia Ferguson and I have participated in 12-15 NC Legislative Black Caucus sponsored Town Hall meetings held around the state. The purpose of the town halls was to update communities on the ways that they’ve been impacted by regressive legislation passed by the 2013 NC General Assembly, to educate communities about the legislation and to define a way forward in addressing community priorities. Our task has been to address voter suppression and to help to define an appropriate community response. During our presentations we’ve addressed the national Republican led campaigns to suppress the right to vote and to translate its present and future impact on voting in North Carolina.
The Southern Coalition of Social Justice and Democracy NC have also been voter suppression presenters at the town halls. Voter suppression has been only one of several major topics at the town hall meetings. Other topics have been the Affordable Care Act, the impact of the 2013 laws on teachers, public education, Medicaid, women rights, the environment and unemployment.
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As a part of our preparations, we monitored and assessed voter suppression tactics led by the 36 Republican controlled legislatures around the country as well as here in North Carolina. We also monitored and assessed audience demographics, turn out and participation at the town halls. We have sought and continue to solicit information on various organizations and individuals that are responding to the challenge of voter suppression in North Carolina. It appears that, for the most part, most participants view voter suppression as a voter ID issue and are pretty much unaware of the many other suppression components of the 2013 “Voter Suppression Act.” In my last column, Battling a “Hydra”, I went beyond the generic definition of voter suppression and provided many, but by no means all, examples of voter suppression. The meetings have been ethnically diverse and very informative but mainly attended by older, more politically engaged voters. We concluded that the younger people, who are vital to our cause, are either unaware or uninterested in addressing the widespread efforts to disenfranchise them and other voters. Young people are at home, on Facebook and have to be reached there and by other social media if they’re to be reached at all.
Most links in this and previous articles are excellent sites that should be used to educate and inform our communities of the many aspects of voter suppression and growing efforts to defeat it.
In addition to educating our communities we are all charged with the responsibility of developing an organizational plan and mobilization process to respond to voter suppression. There is broad-based support for virtually all of the many efforts of the many individuals and organizations that are presently engaged. To that end, we need everyone to help build a network umbrella so that we can exchange ideas, information, avoid needless waste and duplication of efforts. We must have a cohesive campaign to defeat voter suppression. In addition to organizations noted-above we are grateful for the unparalleled past, present, and future leadership of Rev. William Barber and the NC Conference of the NAACP. Always remember that this is an “all hands on deck” moment in our history and every individual and organization is needed for our success.
In addition to known organizations already noted, there are others responding to this attack on democracy. Others among the known are the NC League of Women Voters, Orange County African American Caucus, Deltas, Links, AKAs, etc. During our town hall presentations we always asked supporters, individuals and organizations, to become stakeholders in the campaign to defeat voter suppression, to endorse our Resolution to Defeat Voter Suppression and otherwise make yourselves known. By becoming a known stakeholder we can better identify, organize and mobilize supporters. Probably, the most productive thing a community can do is use local activist to convene voter suppression town hall meetings using the organizations and materials that we’ve referenced herein as primary resources.
It is safe to conclude that in North Carolina we’re responding to round one of 2013 legislation of suppression laws. Unless we’re successful in 2014, surely round two will be enacted in 2015 to further disenfranchise voters for the presidential election year of 2016.
In my next article we’ll address the Tea Party’s attack on the Constitution as it attacks the constitution guarantee of “one man, one vote.”
Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News with a primary focus on voter suppression. To join the campaign to defeat voter suppression please write him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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