“The Black Church, activists and black organizations must step up to the plate and shore up its efforts in taking an active role in seeing that no voters, especially black voters, are disenfranchised anywhere in places where new Voter ID laws, purges and shorter voting hours are taking place” â€“ Juanita Bratcher, Author, Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine
By Juanita Bratcher
Just as there are efforts taking place by some public and elected officials to suppress voting participation by minorities, the elderly, poor and young voters in the November 6, 2012 Presidential Election, there should also be an all-out effort by black churches, black organizations and activists to make certain that every voter â€“ Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians and others â€“ gets the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in this very critical election.
The Black Church is and always has been the backbone of the black community, and has certainly earned its stars and stripes on the battlefield fighting for democracy, not just for Blacks but for other disenfranchised people. The Black Church has been the catalyst in monitoring and overseeing the many negatives confronting black and other minority communities, and in many cases has brought these catastrophes to a squeaking halt.
Traditionally and historically, Blacks have always looked to the Black Church to morally be at the forefront of fighting unfair, unjust laws and discrimination. And the Black Church has proudly stepped up to the plate and delivered with the help of its counterparts – other ministerial ethnicities that believe in civil rights and human rights for all.
When talking about efforts by some to â€œblock the vote through Voter ID laws and purges,â€ Rev. Harold E. Bailey, Founder and President of Probation Challenge, Inc., and the PCC Internet Broadcast Network. http://www.probationchallenge.org/, said there are those who are â€œseeking to set the premise of this nation for a precious few.
â€œI have lived past the promised years, but I never thought I would see our nation try to revert back to the yesterdays where the KKK and other biased groups sought to destroy another body of people. Now many of those same hatred groups are dressed in pin stripe attire while seeking to set theÂ premise of this nation for a precious few.Â This country was built for all the many races of people – and not merely for a self-serving body who talks out of both sides of the mouth… especially on Mondays after giving God thanks on Sundays.â€
Unfair Voter ID laws, purging and shorten hours are nothing more than an outright assault on our democracy. And to victims of â€œBlock the Voteâ€: If your voter registration is in jeopardy â€“ if youâ€™re a victim of purges or Voter ID laws â€“ you must do whatâ€™s necessary to make certain that things are straightened out prior to Election Day so you can exercise your right to vote in this VERY IMPORTANT election. There is so much at stake; and yes, the winner of the presidential prize will be in charge of leading this country for the next four years and you might not like the results or the winnerâ€™s agenda. There are extremists with hate-filled views, hatred and of dividing the country. We must continue to weed them out.
Thereâ€™re about 70 something days before the November 6th General Election â€“ not much time left to wage an-all-out concerted campaign to see that justice is done, and stop the manipulative assault by some to keep people from exercising their right to vote. But thereâ€™s still a little time to turn some things around. So itâ€™s incumbent to do everything necessary to work toward a concerted goal, to walk lockstep together to make going to the polls a top priority and to be mindful that whoever wins the presidency â€“ whether itâ€™s Â President Barack Obama or Republican Presumptive Nominee Mitt Romney â€“ the winnerâ€™s decisions will set the future tone of our country. And certainly, there are stark differences in the two candidatesâ€™ agendas and also differences in the Democrat and Republican Parties as well.
Victims of â€œBlock the Voteâ€ â€“ and thatâ€™s what they are â€“ must be ready to fight every step of the way to make certain that their voting right is in place before November 6th. When one prepares early for possible disasters, thereâ€™s a possibility that those disasters can be overturned before they ever see the light of day.
Crucial actions can take place in filing lawsuits in the courts but at the same time there must be alternatives like getting out the vote drives to register people to vote; field organizers to put strategic plans together to help those who have been purged from voter registration rolls back on the rolls, i.e., getting their Voter IDs and raising money to pay for those IDâ€™s if the state does not provide free ones, which should have been part of legislation passed to accommodate already voters and potential voters.
Â In one state where a Voter ID law was passed, nights and weekends were restricted in some areas and expanded in others. Reportedly, there were shorter hours in counties where there were predominantly Democrat voters and they were extended in counties where there were predominantly Republican voters. In Pennsylvania alone, there are 758,000 voters with no Voter ID. There are purge processes going on in Iowa and Ohio. In Ohio, the last three days of early voting were cut.
In Franklin County, Ohio, in the 2008 election, 31% of early voters were African-Americans; 82% of all early voters in Franklin County voted on weekends; and 197,000 voted early on nights or weekends. Â Â
Noteworthy: Itâ€™s as clear as day that Block the Vote, purges, and shorter voting hours obviously were put in place to sabotage the November 6, 2012 Presidential Election.
And itâ€™s time for all â€œPolitical Sleeping Giantsâ€ to wake up and smell the outrage â€“ strategic actions by some elected and public officials – to take away one of the most basic rights of all Americans, to deny them the right to cast their ballot at the polls on Election Day.
And Political Sleeping Giants must recognize the connotations coming from these new â€œhostage lawsâ€ that have every means of sabotaging the election: This is an important electionâ€¦ one you must take seriouslyâ€¦no playâ€¦and by all accounts, is a very serious matter! And itâ€™s time to get serious about getting out the vote. The goal must be to do whatever necessary to cast your vote at the polls on Election Day, to uphold our democracy and not let a handful of people determine this race by undermining our voter and electoral systems. You must put forth an effort to do the right thing â€“ make certain you have moved all road blocks to voting on Election Day. Donâ€™t stay home and donâ€™t go fishing. For sure, those who donâ€™t want you to vote are already working hard to shut you out of the process.
As the old adage goes, â€œItâ€™s Nation Time,â€ a time to get involved to make certain that every registered voter can exercise their right to vote at the polls on Election Day, although some will continue to fall through the cracks.
By no stretch of the imagination should any registered voter be denied the right to vote. Yet Voter ID laws have passed in more than 30 states, including several swing states â€“ Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Reportedly, the Voter ID law in Pennsylvania alone can disenfranchise as many as758.000 to a million voters. A lawsuit was filed against Pennsylvaniaâ€™s law but a judge upheld it. The decision was appealed but it will be somewhere in September before a decision is made.
However, by the slip of the tongue, lapsed memory pertaining to secrecy, or just plain arrogance, some key Republicans made a case for those who already believed that the Voter ID laws, purging and shorten voting hours are based on voter fraud, were a farce and not the real reason. The fraud numbers, if any, were so minuscule. The bottom line is, it is the last gasp to try and keep down the African-American vote and other voters who normally vote Democrat. And obviously, it was a well thought-out approach to legally disenfranchise certain voters.
Take for instance: Doug Priesse, Chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party and a member of the countyâ€™s Board of Election, told an Ohio newspaper that extended hours benefitted African-Americans.
Priesse, who voted against weekend voting hours, said â€œWe shouldnâ€™t try to accommodate African-American votersâ€¦I guess I really actually feel we shouldnâ€™t contort the voting process to accommodate the urbanâ€¦voter-turnout machineâ€¦letâ€™s be fair and reasonable,â€ he told the Columbus Dispatch.
Hours in Ohio were cut in all 88 counties.
African-American voters didnâ€™t ask for special privileges or special accommodations to vote, as Priesse would want whoever his audience is to think. Voting laws apply to all â€“ and they should apply to all. But it appears that these laws are designed to usurp Blacks from the voting process.
In another debacle, Jim Greer, former Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, admitted that during his tenure as chairman, the Republican Party of Florida intentionally tried to suppress minority voters to keep them away from the polls. He made the charges in a deposition in a civil lawsuit he filed against the Florida Republican Party and in an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton, host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC.
Greer, who served as chairman in Florida and is now up on criminal charges for alleged money laundering and fraud, said voter fraud was never on the Republican agenda, but that the strategy was to reduce early voting and manipulate the voter registration process which could lead to party gains in the November elections; to suppress minority voters, specifically Latinos, African-Americans and potential voters, and to make sure that what happened in the 2008 election never happens again.
And then there was Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai. In a speech in June 2012, Turzai, in listing a number of legislative accomplishments, said â€œVoter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done.â€
In a CopyLine article July 2, 2012, authored by Publisher Juanita Bratcher, entitled â€œTear gas, billy clubs, water hoses, attack dogs and voter registration: We will not go back to that shameful history, that dark era of yesteryear through voter purges and Voter Id laws cropping up in states across the country,â€ Bratcher stated, â€œWe cannot and will not go back to the dark era of yesteryear when certain citizens could not vote in this country. We must fight tooth and nail, every step of the way, to extinguish efforts by some who would try to disenfranchise votersâ€™ constitutional right to the ballot boxâ€
In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.â€™s â€œI Have a Dreamâ€ speech of August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., he stated: â€œWe cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.â€
In another article by Bratcher in CopyLineâ€™s October 11, 2011 Edition, â€œSome states have re-invented voting through new voter ID laws: Is it a legal means to disenfranchise certain voters?,â€ the article reported that:
Brennanâ€™s Executive Summary points out the following on the status wave of changes in the voting arena:
This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election. BasedÂ on the Brennan Centerâ€™s analysis of the 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states, it isÂ clear that:
- These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters toÂ cast ballots in 2012.
- The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 â€“Â 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
- Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis ofÂ Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictiveÂ legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.
And lastly, lest we never forget the echoing words from Theodore G. Bilbo who served two terms as Governor of Mississippi (1916-1920 and 1928-1932); and two terms as United States Senator from Mississippi (1935 to 1947). Bilboâ€™s declaration made many years ago as to the possibility of blacks voting, declared: â€œDo not let a single Nigger register and vote. If you let a few register and vote this year, next year there will be twice as many, and the next thing you know the whole thing will be out of hand.â€
There are those who want to take liberties from some Americans while giving more to others and extreme views that are shameful to a democracy. They should be rooted out and booted out of office or never be an officeholder. There should only be ONE AMERICA and all citizens should have the same basic rights â€“ not one for the 99% and another for the top 1%.
Itâ€™s an urgent call to arms. And itâ€™s time for activists to put on their running shoes, organize the foot soldiers, and put forth every effort to see that America has a fair election on November 6, 2012.
I can imagine that if Bilbo were still here today, heâ€™d say, â€œUh, huh, I told you soâ€¦this voting on the part of African-Americans has gotten out of hand.â€
Juanita Bratcher is an award-winning journalist and the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com. She is the author of several books, songwriter and poet. Bratcher has been a Journalist for more than 35 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.Â