By Juanita Bratcher
It is absolutely absurd and mind boggling that there are some conservatives in this country who are trying to undercut, undermine and sabotage the rights of some American citizens to vote in the upcoming November 6, 2012 election, specifically Blacks, other minorities, senior citizens and young voters.
Conservative governors and Republican-controlled Legislatures across the country are trying to undercut and undermine the vote in the November 6, 2012 election through Voter ID laws, the purgingÂ of Voter Registration Rolls and shortening of voting hours, which, obviously, has the possibility of disenfranchising millions of voters.
Adding to that, are the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Super Pacs that are being pumped into campaignsâ€¦flowing through deceptive ads like rushing waters in an all-out effort to buy the country?
Americans should be concerned about the millions of Super Pac dollars that are shamelessly floating through the hemisphere being used for the purpose of spitting out negative ads as a means of confusing uninformed voters. Much of what is being said are outright lies and misinformation. And even when they’re called on it, they continue to advertise the lies. Certainly, if you believe in something (ideology or opinions) why not tell the truth about itâ€¦â€œman upâ€ or â€œwoman upâ€ and call a spade a spade. Itâ€™s like the Ku Klux Klanâ€™s behavior – always emphatic in their hatemongering opinions andÂ beliefs, yet wear hoods over their faces to cover up their identity. Are they shame of their stupid, ludicrous opinions that are certainly out of mainstream America?
It’s well past the time toÂ start planning, strategizing and organizing – helping those who have problems getting IDs to vote in the election,Â Â andÂ making an all-out effort to make arrangements to get in on early voting during the time it is available, even if that means making changes in individual schedules. And,Â to see that those voters who need help to get to the polls on Election Day get it. It’s time toÂ Â rally the troops and make certainÂ that every registered voterÂ who wants to vote in the November 6 election gets the opportunity to vote, and that voting rights are preserved in this election and beyond.
As I stated in a previous article in CopyLine Magazine: 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.
I also noted in the article that efforts to Block the Vote 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€
It is of the utmost importance that African-Americans exercise their right to vote as any other American, understand the meaning of political power… political empowerment, keep a vigilant eye on what is happening politically in our country, and let their voices be heard through the ballot box on Election Day.
The late John Stroger, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, believed in the power of the ballot. His motto was: â€œA voteless people are a hopeless people.â€ I served as Strogerâ€™s Press Secretary during his last run for the County Board. He won the election but suffered a stroke after the primary election and couldnâ€™t run in the General Election. He asked the Democratic Party to slate his son, Todd, in his place on the ballot. Todd won, but four years later lost his bid for re-election.
Thereâ€™s a stark, glaring picture image in my mind of literally thousands of people waiting in line to vote in the first multi-racial election in South Africa in 1994. I talked about that picture image in my unreleased book, â€œLest we never forget: The Power of the Ballot.â€
As I sat there watching televised programs from South Africa on Election Day, staring relentlessly at the television screen and visually taking in the long lines of Blacks standing in the baking sun for well over eight hours to cast their ballots, my mind resonated over their obvious victory of gaining the right to vote; and the emotional gladness of realizing that the long battle to get there had finally come to an end; however, knowing full-well that this was just the beginning of new challenges ahead.
And I, as with many other Americans, rejoiced with them. Many of those rejoicing Americans had been cogs in the wheel, working with the disenfranchised and helping to push for this victory, this historical time in history. It had been a long time coming, but the sweetness of victory was overwhelming.
The final results would bring three-hundred-forty-one years of White rule and domination in South Africa. The old way of doing business was going up in smoke. And for the first time in the history of this apartheid regime, one man one vote had become a reality.
The White minority owned 98 percent of the wealth in South Africa at the time, and the Black majority had been denied both the ballot box and political power.
The first multi-racial election in South Africa was long overdue. The country’s population stood at 75.2 percent Black; 13.6 percent White; 8.6 percent Colored (racially mixed); and 2.6 percent Indian.
The number of eligible voters was placed at 22.7 million; 18 million of which were first-time Black voters. The country’s 9,000 polling places were swamped with voters, and heavily guarded during the three-day election.
Nomaza Paintin, the niece of South African President Nelson Mandela, was the first Black to cast her vote in the multi-racial election, which she cast in New Zealand, the place she had lived for the past eight years.
On May 10, 1994, Mandela, at the age of 75, was sworn-in as president of South Africa, four years after he was released from Victor Verster Prison on Feb. 11, 1990. He was incarcerated for 27 years.
Declaring, “Let freedom reign,” Mandela was sworn-in before some 50,000 people, including dignitaries from more than 150 countries. Black South Africans danced in the streets! It had been a longtime coming!
Nikosi Sikeli Afrika (God Bless Africa) was echoed all over the land as new changes were taking place, i.e., a new president, a new Constitution and Charter. South Africa’s 66-year-old flag, the Tricolor Standard, had its last gasp of breath going into oblivion.
What was happening in South Africa was an eye-opener for Blacks in America who were too young to remember the 1960s Civil Rights Movement; voter registration drives and marches in America, specifically in the Deep South. It was a refresher course for those who lived it, and perhaps a stark revelation for those who knew very little or nothing about it. That Blacks, in their attempt to register to vote, were faced with billy clubs, tear gas and water hoses. They were turned away by the Bull Connors of Alabama who would deny them their right to vote as American citizens.
That can be equated to what is happening in America today â€“ those who are trying to turn back the clock in an effort to steal the Presidential Election.
Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s incumbent upon those of us that believe in a fair democracy and fair elections to get involved in the task of making sure that Democracy prevails.
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