Five Ways Black Voters Can Protect Their Votes
1. Voter I.D. laws – In several states, voting laws have changed to require an state-issued piece of identification. Don’t be fooled. All you need is your social security number to vote and voter registration card. If your state has imposed this law, fill out an absentee ballot by registering a post office box.
2. Fake criminal records – Republicans learned that suggesting someone has a criminal record as he enters the voting booth can fool a good person into thinking he’s a criminal. Felon rolls vary in accuracy from state to state, but having your social security number ready will avoid any confusion between James Johnson the Felon and Jim Johnson the hard-working taxpayer
3. The Name Game – Voter registration cards should have your full name as it appears on your social security card. This way, no one can decline you the vote because you list a name as Bob instead of Robert (a tactic being used in Florida).
4. Ballot Design - Thousands of Florida seniors voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000 because unclear labels put his name near to Al Gore’s. If you are confused about a choice, write in your vote or ask for another nearby polling station where you can see choices clearly.
5. Tell a friend what his/her rights are and register right away.
In a sweeping attempt to destroy the Black vote, the Republican party has been undermining the laws that uphold the rights of citizens in certain districts. Voter registration initiatives have been the backbone of the recent surge in Democratic voters, going back to John Kerry’s run for the White House in 2004.(ABC News estimates the number of newly registered Dem voters at four million.)
Senator Barack Obama will have to strengthen his hold on majority black voting districts in order to secure the electoral college votes he needs to win. But the Republican party has found every way possible to tamper with legitimate votes and, true to double-talk form, use the phrases “voter fraud” and “disenfranchisement” to foment their agenda.
For an organization like ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which has registered over 1.6 million voters, legal snags have defined their uphill battle against Republican operatives who accuse them of voter fraud when they try to target areas with Black residents. ACORN has been mired in conflict because of allegedly offering registrants money for their voter cards. The legal troubles notwithstanding, they are one of the interest groups making sure everyone’s right to vote is recognized. In Indiana in 2006, the Supreme Court overruled state law, mandating that voters should present I.D. to cast their ballots. The logic of the ruling is that absentee ballots and voters with false identification will disenfranchise legitimate voters by flooding the process. But there is no proof that absentee ballots have affected vote counts to the degree that conservative lawsuits claim.
The same backwards logic was applied in a ruling in Arizona in 2004, which now requires residents to show I.D. at the ballot box. And in Michigan, the chairman of the Republican party in Macomb County has vowed to challenge voters at the booth based on foreclosure notices linked to their addresses. James Carabelli claims to be looking out for “proper electoral procedure” but, in reality, 60% of Michiganders who have outstanding subprime loans are African-American.
Just as when the Jim Crow segregation laws altered the regulations for black voters on Election Day, the nation faces a distinct crisis in fairness. The Department of Justice, which should be responsible for monitoring the fairness of the voting process for minority groups, has been swayed by a number of conservative appointments during the Bush administration. The firings of several attorneys by the DOJ cued an inquiry into claims by those attorneys that party bias was the real cause for their termination.
Read on about examples of voter discrimination state by state
Jonathan Alter of Newsweek writes:
The motive here is political, not racial. Republicans aren’t bigots like the Jim Crow segregationists. But they know that increased turnout in poor, black neighborhoods is good for Democrats. In that sense, the effort to suppress voting still amounts to the practical equivalent of racism.
Art Levine of Huffington Post backs the claim:
Unfortunately, progressives have tended to pay more attention to Election Day dirty tricks and to electronic voting machines than to a more systemic threat: the Republican campaign to suppress the votes of low-income, young, and minority voters through restrictive legislation and rulings, all based on the mythic specter of voter fraud. Those relatively transient voters, drawn to the polls this year by the Obama and Clinton campaigns, could find themselves thwarted in November and thereafter by the GOP-driven regime of voting restrictions — particularly if, as many observers believe, the Court upholds Indiana’s restrictive law before it adjourns this June.
Steven Rosenfeld writes in Social Policy (15-page report in link below):
Republican-controlled legislatures in Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin passed new voter ID requirements after 2004, although gubernatorial vetoes or court orders nullified laws in all those states besides Indiana. Civil rights attorneys are concerned the court could codify tougher voter ID laws.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School has found that 25% of adult African-Americans, 15% of adults earning below 35,000 dollars annually, and 18% of seniors over 65 do not have government-issued photo ID.
Other instances of voter fraud claims gone wrong have been documented but rarely mentioned in these states:
- Arizona – Judge Upholds Voter ID Law
- Georgia – Voter Law Gets Criticized But Stands
- Michigan – Lose Your Home, Lose Your Vote
- Florida – Justice Department Questioned
- Ohio – High-Tech Jim Crow
Blacks in these swing states will be under pressure from prosecutors and Republicans who profess to be looking out for minority interests all while making it hard for them to vote. Tell you friends and neighbors that we will not be subject to modern Jim Crow tactics. Everyone with a clear criminal record and a social security identification confirming citizenship can vote. The election cycle can often become a maelstrom of confusion when it matters most. Informing friends and family members about their rights will help us to avoid these trumped up complications.