Educate, Organize and Mobilize
By Peter Grear
This week the Campaign to Defeat Voter Suppression will reach an audience critical to its success. The 2014 Black Summit of the Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Officials will host a panel presentation by leaders representing organizations that are a part of an evolving dynamic network to defend citizens’ right to vote. The audience will include social and political activist from around the state.
To help create a more understandable context of our panel discussions, I’m going to refer to earlier information and references that I used to help explain voter suppression and to help readers know it when they see it. I will also highlight new evolving suppression strategies that are being enacted in other states because some of them will surely be coming to the North Carolina General Assembly. For the best description of voter suppression that I’ve come across and examples of strategies that have and are being used in the United States, I suggest that readers refer to Wikipedia.org/votersuppression. (See link #1 below). Some of the more popular tactics noted in Wikipedia are impediments to voter registration, photo ID laws, purging voter rolls, Jim Crow Laws like poll taxes, inequality in Election Day resources, caging lists and others.
In her dissent to the 2013 Supreme Court Ruling gutting the Voter Right Act, the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, addressed the long history of persistent voter suppression tactics that have been used to prevent minority voting. In June of this year, Emily Badger, writing for The Atlantic Cities, addressed the fears of Justice Ginsburg. Ginsburg wrote that “Early attempts to cope with this vile infection resembled battling the Hydra.” “Whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified and prohibited, others sprang up in its place.” (See link #2 below).
Two states that we’ll take a very limited look in on this week are Florida and Ohio. Please understand that what is happening in Florida and Ohio are only examples of what is going on in right-wing legislatures around the country. I recently posted stories about unbelievable but true voter suppression tactics in Ohio and Florida on Facebook at facebook.com/votersuppression
According to a story in Think Progress (See link #3 below), during the 2012 presidential election in Florida’s Dade County, voters reportedly waited on line for upwards of six hours to vote. That wait alone is enough to deter would-be voters from going to the polls. But now residents in Florida’s most populous county will have another disincentive: they won’t be able to go to the bathroom. Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities.
According to a story in New America Media, it was a sunny March morning when Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner (D) and her small band boarded the No. 4 bus, beginning their trek from the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio to a proposed new county Board of Elections in Mount Airy. The trip, Senator Turner said, was meant to show how a decision to move early voting from downtown to the suburbs would make it extremely difficult for Hamilton County voters that didn’t have a vehicle.
“It took two buses – the second bus was late; one and a half hours one way, and that doesn’t even count the time voters will spend waiting to vote; a half-mile walk since the bus didn’t stop outside the site,” then they had to trod up a long driveway with no sidewalks since the building was situated some way off the street, Turner recalled. (See link #4 below).
Clearly, there are hundreds of suppression tactics being proposed and enacted across the country but by addressing those noted herein and other voter suppression issues at the Black Summit we will have a unique opportunity to assess the seriousness of the larger threats and the capacity of our community to respond to them. Input from our readers is essential to the development of a comprehensive strategy to defeat voter suppression.
On our voter suppression panel we’ll have a strong cross-section of presenters from the legal community to community based non-profits. There is a glaring absence of representation from the church community. Needless to say, for our efforts to succeed we will have to have full aggressive participation for our churches. Please call upon your church to get involved in the opposition to the most serious threat to our Civil Rights in over 50 years.
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Peter Grear 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 and #defeatvotersuppression.