Educate, Organize and Mobilize – Many of you know that our first Voter Rights Forum is being held on Saturday, November 7th at the Westover Recreation Center, located at 267 Bonanza Dr. Fayetteville, NC 28303, from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The forum is free and open to the public.
The publications that are supporting our efforts are The Fayetteville Press, The County News, The Carolina Times, The Winston-Salem Chronicle, The Carolina Peacemaker and Greater Diversity News. Please look to these publications for ongoing coverage as this project continues to evolve and share your ideas on what we can do to improve the project and our coverage.
It would also be helpful if supporters of our efforts would subscribe to our publications. A subscription to participating publications would connect you to ongoing voter rights developments from now through our November 2016 General Elections.
There are several objectives that we will seek to achieve on Saturday. They include, but are not limited to, identifying the leading organizations that are now involved in planning a massive voter mobilization effort for November 2016. Our two lead presenters, The NC NAACP and Democracy NC both fit that description. At our meeting we will try to identify other leadership organizations and provide contact information for individuals wanting to get involve and aren’t sure how to do so.
The NC NAACP has given a very positive response to our forum efforts and recognized the importance of including the Black press in voter mobilization efforts going forward.
Another desired outcome is the identification of supportive roles that many individuals want to play or should be playing. Our end product objective has a much greater chance of success if role players have clearly defined and communicated roles to play. I continue to opine that our November success is only possible if our Black elected officials get aggressively involved supporting massive voter mobilization. The co-sponsorship of our forums with Black elected officials signifies the wide-spread agreement to that thought.
It is also important to recognize the invaluable contributions that other individuals play in political campaigns in every election. Many develop and maintain databases, raise money, lead social media projects, write letters-to-the-editor, man phone banks, do community canvassing, work polls, provide food and rides polls. There are many other tasks necessary for political victory not listed here. However, our forums will explore the landscape with the objective of ensuring that we cover all of our bases.
I have dubbed our 2016 mobilization challenge as the “billionaires vs. the underfunded.” Because of our limited financial resources, it is imperative that we have a seamless coalition that will prevent the waste of time and resources that will surely occur with “go it alone efforts.” Always remember that voter ID is just one of many voter suppression laws that await unsuspecting voters in the November 2016 General Elections.
Contact has also been made with representatives of several church denominations that have historically supported voter rights and that are committed to helping with our efforts going forward. Our publishers will continue to publish information on our project as it evolves.
As I regularly do, this week I am calling readers attention to voter suppression stories that address the discriminatory intent by both Texas and Kansas in the enactment and implementation of voter ID laws.
In a recent HuffingtonPost.com article by Terry Smith, Distinguished Research Professor, DePaul College of Law; author; legal and political analyst noted that the basic contours of the public discourse on voter ID laws are fairly clear. In-person voting fraud is rare. He noted that Judge Richard Posner, who originally ruled that voter ID laws were constitutional, has concluded that restrictive voter ID laws are mainly the product of Republican legislatures targeting Democratic –leaning constituencies. Chief among those Democratic constituencies are African Americans and Latinos. The refrain of Republicans to the charge of racial discrimination is that, at worst, the laws are politically motivated — an odd justification of a potential impediment to accessing the ballot.
A recent case in Texas reveals the racial trappings not only of that state’s restrictive voter ID law but of the broader movement to adopt voter ID laws. A federal district court in Texas found that Texas’s voter ID law intentionally discriminated against Black and Latino voters. The court based its finding on a number of factors, including the fact that the laws proponents were fully aware that the law would have a disparate impact on Blacks and Latinos. (See link No. 1 below).
Recently, Kira Lerner wrote and article published in Thinkprogress.org, in which she described Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as a notorious voter suppression architect and the only election official in the country with prosecutorial power.
She noted that earlier this month, Kobach filed his first criminal charges. The targets: three people he says committed voter fraud in the 2010 election. She noted that research shows that new voting restrictions enacted by states across the country prevents voters — particularly minorities and younger citizens — from casting ballots. And according to the Brennan Center for Justice, voter fraud is a non-issue and most alleged fraud in elections relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators. The evidence seems to suggest that that is the case in the charges filed by Kobach. (See link No. 2 below).
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