Saturday, April 12, 2014

Obama Calls Out the GOP for Voter Suppression

Good morning, family. Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the National Action Network National Convention. The President called a spade a spade. He called the Republicans out for suppressing the black vote. The Grio reports that:
In an unsparing critique of Republicans, President Barack Obama on Friday said the GOP is threatening voting rights in America more than at any point since the passage of the historic 1965 law expanding rights at the ballot box to millions of black Americans.

“The stark simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today,” Obama said in a fiery speech at civil rights activist and television talk host Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference.

The election-year warning comes as Obama seeks to mobilize Democratic voters to fight back against state voting requirements and early balloting restrictions that many in his party fear will curb turnout in November. The president vowed that he would not let the attacks on voting rights go unchallenged, but offered no new announcements of specific actions his administration planned to take.

The president pinned efforts to curb access to the ballot box directly on the GOP, declaring that the effort “has not been led by both parties. It’s been led by the Republican Party.”
The President spoke the truth. Republicans supported striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act ("VRA"). As Think Progress reports, "the Republican attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court arguing that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional." In Shelby County v. Holder, it was Republican appointed Supreme Court Justices who decided to strike down Section 4 of the VRA. Moreover, all around the country, the GOP is deliberately attempting to suppress black voters and other voters who tend to vote for Democrats.

The New York Times reports that:
Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.

Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.

In all, nine states have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013. Most have to do with voter ID laws. Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, after a federal court judge recently upheld such laws passed in Arizona and Kansas. Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register.
In sum, the President's assessment of the GOP is accurate.

The question is what are we prepared to do combat the GOP's voter suppression efforts. In addition to gathering evidence and filing lawsuits, we must combat voter suppression through intensive voter information and registration campaigns. We must ensure that all African American voters are aware of all new voter laws in their state. We must register record numbers of African American voters and inspire them to actually vote. While we inform the public and register new voters, we must continue to boldly define and vigorously push a black agenda. We must support or oppose politicians based solely on their demonstrated commitment to our agenda.  We cannot afford to vote for candidates based solely based on party affiliation. Our agenda must be primary, first and foremost.

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