Educate, organize and mobilize: This past Saturday I attended a meeting entitled Operation Jumpstart the Vote Leadership Training. I found it very compelling and informative. You should have been there. In my column last week I noted that since August 2013 I've continued to ask myself "what would an effective campaign to defeat voter suppression look like?” I indicated that I found my answer when discussing the planned participation in the campaign to defeat voter suppression by the North Carolina Alliance of Black Elected Officials, (the Alliance). That column is posted at www.facebook.com/votersuppression and archived on greaterdiversity.com.
The meeting last Saturday was held in Raleigh and hosted by Democracy NC. Major topics of discussion were effective voter registration, engagement strategies, and voter education and protection. There were 40-50 enthusiastic participants from around the state that I concluded, though I had suspected all along, were mainly progressive political activist from the broad spectrum of the progressive movement. Democracy NC held a parallel meeting in Salisbury addressing the same issues and I presume with the same results. I mentioned in past articles that when I cover and write about voter suppression I’m more than an innocent bystander. I’m a participating strategist looking for answers and making observations to share with our readers.
The Democracy NC meeting further confirmed my conclusion that all of the component parts for a successful campaign to defeat voter suppression were in sight and within reach. Be that as it may, the campaign is an uphill battle that may last for many years. Readers should also understand that the “monied elite” like Art Pope and the Koch Brothers, is funding and supporting voter suppression and other right wing campaigns across the country and here in North Carolina. The attack on voting rights and other issues important to the black community is the most serious attack in the last 50 years. Protecting our voting rights and American Democracy will require heroic resistance from the entire black community and our progressive partners. Success against voter suppression will not come quickly or easy.
The presence of the Alliance in the campaign and the progressive organization represented at Saturday meeting is clear and convincing evidence that the ingredients for an aggressive, long-term and ultimately successful campaign exist but need to be developed and used.
Now that you’ve been given a general overview of the job at hand it is up to you to make an affirmative decision to join the most serious civil rights struggle in the last 50 years or to sit on the sideline and do nothing. I trust that you will join us. I’ll continue to write about developments as we move forward and to the extent possible highlight specific task that need to be addressed. The first step is to volunteer through www.democracy-nc.org and/or follow us on www.facebook.com/votersuppression . On Facebook we will post and comment on an ongoing basis so that there will always be enough going on to help newcomers get involved.
May 6, 2014 is the date of the primary elections. It has gained importance beyond what I originally understood. Although, I’ve mostly written about topics related to voter suppression, there are parallel activities designed to defeat it in court or at the polls. Neither path assures victory or success and therefore we must pursue both at the same time. To that end, the voter protection team will be soliciting incident reports from anyone who has a problem voting. The reports will be used by the legal teams to justify the issuance of an injunction to prevent the enforcement of part or all of the Voter Suppression Act. Also, it is important for local activist to contact their local Board of Election and discuss ways that will make the early voting process a bit less onerous for voters. Local boards are making those decision and they will be different from county to county so it is important that this is done statewide. For example, New Hanover County has already established its early voting guidelines for the May 6 primaries and is expected to finalize their November general election guidelines prior to July. There are helpful tips that can be downloaded from Democracy-nc.org.
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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.