All Articles Tagged "voting rights"
“I Thought We Settled This 50 Years Ago”: Obama Discusses Voting Rights At National Action Network Conference
President Obama shut down New York City (literally) to make a brief appearance today at the National Action Network’s annual conference, where he spoke to a crowd that included press, government officials (we spotted Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), and esteemed guests (we also spotted Martin Luther King III) about the need for vigilance in the fight for voting rights. Moreover, Obama expressed his disbelief over the fact that we’re even having this discussion in 2014. Truth!
“We should not be having an argument over this,” the President said at one point. He set his sights squarely on the Republican party, which has taken up a fight in many states to make it harder to vote. The President brushed aside the assertion that these laws are meant to tackle voter fraud with statistics — 40 voters out of 197 million have been indicted for fraud. But among the rules that are being passed is a mandate for some to present a passport to register to vote.
“Just because you don’t have the money to travel abroad doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to vote at home,” the President said. He later added, “The real voter fraud is people who try to deny us our rights with bogus arguments.”
But more than that, he called on everyone to take responsibility for getting to the polling place. The problem, he said, is “people giving up the right to vote.”
Patience is also required if change will come once and for all.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens as long as we don’t give our power away,” the President remarked.
Obama made his way to New York just hours after appearing at the White House with outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and his new choice, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Obama opened his speech by referencing the success of the healthcare law — more than seven million enrolled — and again taking a swipe at Republicans.
“We have states who, just out of political spite, won’t let people get health insurance,” he said.
A quick clip about the event after the jump.
One of the main objectives of the United Nations is to promote and protect human rights. And for ages many have wondered why the organzation has never taken a stand on the plight of blacks in the United States. It was a question activist Malcolm X wondered years ago, wanting to bring the organization into the Civil Rights Movement. Now leaders of the NAACP plan to travel to Geneva to report to the United Nations on civil rights issues in the United States, reports BET.
According to the NAACP, it will send a delegation to the meeting of the United Nations next week for the review of the United States’s part in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The group aims to also address Florida’s very controversial Stand Your Ground law as well as how several states have adopted voter identification requirements in order to cast ballots and how this affects people of color in the U.S.
“We’re convinced that the advent of photo ID laws have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities in terms of voting,” Hilary Shelton, the NAACP’s senior vice president for policy and advocacy and director of the organization’s Washington bureau, told BET.
“We find that there are many people, many of them African-American, who are disproportionately disenfranchised by these laws,” Shelton said.
The NAACP is working in partnership organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Hip Hop Caucus, co-authors of a report on felony disenfranchisement that was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
“The NAACP first brought a delegation before the United Nations Human Rights Council in 1947, when W.E.B. Dubois delivered his famous speech ‘An Appeal to the World’ warning the global body about threats to voting rights in the United States,” the organization reports on its website.
It has long been a question for many: If a convicted felon has paid their debt to society, why don’t they regain their right to vote? Attorney General Eric Holder is pressuring the Administration to restore voting rights to former felons, calling laws that disenfranchise millions of Americans “unnecessary and unjust.”
They are rooted in “centuries-old conceptions of justice that were too often based on exclusion, animus, and fear,” The Huffington Post continues.
During the last several months, Holder, who believes the policies disparately impact minority communities, has been focused on criminal justice reform.
“By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes,” Holder stated during a recent criminal justice reform event hosted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at Georgetown University Law Center. “They undermine the reentry process and defy the principles of accountability and rehabilitation that guide our criminal justice policies. And however well-intentioned current advocates of felony disenfranchisement may be, the reality is that these measures are, at best, profoundly outdated.”
Because of current laws, an estimated 5.8 million Americans, more than the individual populations of 31 states, cannot vote, according to Holder. The AG praised Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as a “leader” on the issue of restoring voting rights and called Paul’s “vocal support for restoring voting rights for former inmates shows that this issue need not break down along partisan lines.”
Right now, 11 states restrict voting rights for ex-felons who have served their sentences and are no longer on parole.
“It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values,” Holder said. “These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.”
Last night, President Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term (we live tweeted it here) and he raced through a number of big issues that he’d like to see Congress act on in the coming months. One of those issues, and possibly most unexpected, was a higher minimum wage.
But there were others that will be up for debate — among Congresspeople and voters alike. Here, we outline nine of the big ones. And in the comments, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and debate. That’s democracy at work!
Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.
The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.
In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.
To continue reading, go to Black Voices.
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By Brande Victorian
The year 1960 was the first and only time 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper didn’t vote. A new state law in Tennessee that requires a photo ID in order to register may make 2012 her second.
Cooper, after finding out the requirement, set out to get the necessary ID. Rent receipt, lease, voter registration card, and birth certificate in hand, the Chattanooga resident was denied an ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center because her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander, was the one on her birth certificate. Without a marriage certificate she couldn’t prove that Cooper is indeed her last name.
State Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, told the ChattanoogaTimes Free Press Cooper’s case is an example of how the law “erects barriers” for elderly and poor people who are disproportionately minorities.
“What you do, you suppress the vote,” Brown said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. It makes no sense in these economic times that we are shifting our time and resources to this.”
Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls acknowledged in an email to the Free Press that things could have been handled better.
“It is department policy that in order to get a photo ID, a citizen must provide documentation that links their name to the document they are using as primary proof of identity,” Qualls wrote. “In this case, since Ms. Cooper’s birth certificate (her primary proof of identity) and voter registration card were two different names, the examiner was unable to provide the free ID.”
Still, “the examiner should have taken extra steps to determine alternative forms of documentation for Ms. Cooper.”
A total of $438,000 was allocated to provide free photo IDs for registered voters who don’t have a qualified ID—a move lawmakers said was necessary to prevent voter fraud. A coalition of organizations announced an effort to repeal the law In Nashville on Tuesday.
“This is a nonpartisan issue. It’s a fair voting issue,” Mary Mancini, Executive Director of Citizen Action, told the Free Press in a phone interview. “It’s all about the legislators seeing that the people of Tennessee don’t want this law.”
After Cooper was denied a photo ID, Charline Kilpatrick, who has been working with residents to get free photo IDs, contacted Hamilton County’s Administrator of Elections Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. She recommended that Cooper vote with an absentee ballot which doesn’t require a photo ID.
(TheLoop21) — Forget about whether President Obama deserves a second term. Forget about the pony that was promised to you during the campaign of “Hope” and “Change.” Your support of or disappointment in the Obama administration’s progress over the past three years doesn’t matter. That’s because the GOP by way of Republican lead state legislatures have put in place new voting laws that will make it much more difficult for traditionally Democratic voters to cast their ballots next year. The GOP’s all out assault on voting will affect nearly 5 million people and almost all of them are Democratic voters. According to a new report released by the Brennan Center for Justice, the impact of new voting restrictions on 2012 could be significant. The groups that will be affected by these new voting restrictions are minority and poor voters. “This is the most significant cutback in voting rights in decades. More voters may be affected than the margin of victory in two out of the past three presidential elections,” said Michael Waldman, the Center’s executive director. “In 2012 we should make it easier for every eligible citizen to vote. Instead, we have made it far harder for too many. Partisans should not try to tilt the electoral playing field in this way.”
(The Root) — “Give us the ballot!” Martin Luther King Jr.’s words still resonate with many of us today. From the marches and protests in Selma, Ala., to the hundreds of voting-rights lawsuits to the on-the-ground slogan “One Man, One Vote,” the road to equal voting rights has not been easy, particularly for communities of color. This year conservatives have attempted to rewind the clock by stripping certain groups of their political power, and unfortunately, they have been successful in many places. In Michigan, a conservative-backed law that threatens to rob poor people of color of their democratic voice was passed without the attention it deserved. Under the pretext of fiscal accountability, the Michigan Legislature authorized the use of emergency managers who threaten the very fabric of our democracy: participation.