Senator Smith Urges Black Voters to Get Engaged A Call to Colors Exclusiveby Cash Michaels, contributing Writer August 3, 2018
“Get educated on the issues – particularly on the six proposed constitutional amendments – and vote” is state Senator Erica D. Smith’s guidance to not just African-American voters, but all voters for this November’s crucial midterm elections.
Senator Smith, a two-term Democrat representing Bertie, Chowan and Edgecombe counties, is also Chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus. She made clear during her phone interview with GDN that she opposes Republican legislative efforts to reestablish voter photo ID laws through a constitutional referendum on the ballot this fall.
The only way to defeat that and the other five proposed amendments, Senator Smith says, is for black and other voters to show up at the polls.
“Despite how the amendments are worded on the ballot, look behind the wording and between the lines for what is not being said, because this will have a very negative impact on representation of all communities in North Carolina.”
After GDN spoke with Senator Smith, news broke that Republican legislative leaders were planning to call yet another Special Session for the sole purpose of writing the ballot language for the six amendments. By law, the State Attorney General and the NC Secretary of State, along with a legislative officer, are tasked with writing the language which will go before voters in November. But because both the Attorney General and the Secretary of State are currently both Democrats, Republicans suspect they will find a way to word the amendments contrary to the GOP’s wishes.
They want to reconvene by August 6th in order to head off any actions by that Democrat-led committee. Governor Cooper, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) and other top state Democrats have denounced the plan.
Senator Smith says the constitutional amendments, and the GOP lawmakers’ hostility towards Governor Cooper and past Democratic Governors, are prime examples of Republican “pettiness at an all-time high, but this is what happens when you have this hyper-partisanship [with] these supermajorities.”
“So now, more than ever before, we must break this supermajority, and create more balance in our legislative process,” she said.
Senator Smith, a 1994 alumna of NC A&T State University and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is in full support of students on campuses of historically-black colleges and universities registering to vote for this fall’s midterm elections, and indeed, casting their ballots, a’la Greater Diversity News’ nonpartisan “A Call to Colors” campaign.
“Oh absolutely,” she said. “We know that by 2020, the millennials will be the largest voting bloc, and I certainly have a passion for them. HBCU students should be fired up like never before. They led us in the 1960s with the sit-ins, and all of the boycotts to advance voting rights and equal opportunity.”
Saying that she is calling on all students on HBCU campuses to come together and register to vote “…in record numbers,” Senator Smith continued, “ I too am at the power of this group to make sure that we can really make America great again, and great for the right reasons.”
“We can turn this ship around,” Smith declared. “Just as we saved America, and took the moral high road to establish more equal rights and opportunity in the ‘60’s through the civil rights movement, this is the modern-day civil rights movement, and it’s going to be led by these students, as it was in the past.”
Senator Smith added that millennials “…are tired of putting up with what our generation has accepted for far too long.”
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