(republished archive from 4/7/2016)
Between now and the November 2016 General Elections my articles will largely be focused on voter suppression and economic inclusion. This week we’ll take a look at the results of voter suppression laws in Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin primaries. Although fear is a recognized motivation to vote, we need to inspire voters of color and others to vote their economics.
This week the Pitt County School Board entertained a proposal to address the lack of minority participation in public spending and the spirit of NCGS § 143-128.2. The proposal was well received and the Board scheduled a public hearing on the issue for their May meeting. For details on NCGS § 143-128.2 Minority business participation goals, (See link No. 1 below). On March 23, 2016 the NC General Assembly passed HB 2. The limitations placed on minimum wages laws by HB 2 should be of concern to all that oppose income inequality. (See link No. 2 below).
The initiative shown by the Pitt County School Board members should serve as an example that inspires voters and challenges other elected officials to address equality of opportunity with their public bodies.
During the Arizona primaries many voters had to wait in line more than 5 hours to vote and some registered voters were denied the opportunity to vote at all. Records show that one voter had to wait over 6 hours. Several factors should be highlighted in the Arizona voting disaster. The long lines didn’t result from voter ID. They resulted from reducing voter polls from nearly 200 down to approximately 60. This scenario bears out the fact that voter suppression is about more than voter ID.
In Wisconsin, surveys indicate that the voter ID laws will preclude nearly 300,000 mostly low-income minority voters from casting a ballot because of their lack of acceptable voter identification. Rest assured that in addition to the voter ID requirements it is fair to conclude that other initiatives to prevent people of color, young people and older citizens from voting will be in play. And of course additional barriers designed to deny citizens their right to vote will also be in effect.
It is apparent that, based upon the information available as well as past experience, it is fair to conclude that there will be a massive effort to suppress the votes of the old, the young, and people of color in North Carolina during our November General Elections. Democracy North Carolina (Democracy NC) has issued an interim report on the serious problems faced by thousands of eligible voters because of North Carolina election law changes.
Democracy NC, in a partnership with Ignite NC, Common Cause and the NAACP, trained and deployed over 700 volunteers to monitor key precincts in more than 40 counties on Election Day. Clad in yellow t-shirts, the “Vote Protectors” collected exit surveys, compiled reports of voting problems, and connected voters to attorneys and law students at a call center at the University of North Carolina’s School of Law. For a summary of what went on in the primary, (See link No. 3 below). Anyone interested in fighting against voter suppression, who is not already actively involved in its opposition, should contact one of the organizations noted above and get involved.
The voter suppression activities going on across the country should create a lot of fear in the minds of people that value democracy. This fear should also motivate the old, young and voters of color to vote in percentages greater than ever before.
Many voters are often characterized as low information voters because of their lack of an in-depth understanding of the details of many political issues and candidate platforms. Hopefully, we’ll be able to help educated Black voters on the substance of the issues that many of the candidates that they will be voting for represent. If voting the economic interest of Black businesses and Black communities are not a part of the political discussions I wonder whether candidates are seriously addressing the massive unemployment and lack of business development in Black communities.
Under the best of circumstances, I believe that statewide elections in November should be rated as toss ups. With voter suppression and voter apathy weighing down the participation by voters of color, ours is the fight of the underdogs. That means that every vote that can be mobilized must be mobilized.
I reiterate what I said last week. We need our Black Elected officials, Legislative Black Caucus members and local elected officials to help turn NCGS § 143-128.2 into a success. The Pitt County School Board efforts represent an excellent starting point, but unless others step up to the plate with other public bodies, we’re wasting 40 years of political fighting for economic equity and we’re failing to “vote our economics.”
Whether you engage in politics and voting out of fear, inspiration or another reason, our democracy and the well-being of communities of color are dependent upon your vote. Every vote counts.
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Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News with a primary focus on political, social and economic justice. To support our efforts, to unite our politics and economics, please “Like” and follow us at www.facebook.com/greaterdiversitynews, “Share” our articles and post your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our websites www.GreaterDiversity.com. He is available for radio commentaries upon request. Follow Peter on twitter.com/yourrighttovote. Finally, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to like and follow our page.