You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials
Voter Suppression: It’s Mobilization Time

Voter Suppression: It’s Mobilization Time

Written by Peter Grear

With this article we will start detailing the ingredients of a revisable action plan that needs comments and revisions as we move toward the Tuesday, November 4, 2014 General Election.  

Read More...
Las Vegas Comedian James Bean's Candid Account Of His Struggle With Suicide

Las Vegas Comedian James Bean's Candid Account Of His Struggle With Suicide

WHEN THE HUMOR IS GONE

James Bean has shown insight and understanding of the darkest moments of many people’s lives as well as ideas on how one could begin to create a life worth living even out of the depths of despair.” -– Rhonda Duncombe, LMFT, LADC

Read More...
Voter Suppression: NC Black Republican Advisory Board

Voter Suppression: NC Black Republican Advisory Board

Written by Peter Grear

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: I confess that I’m amazed. The Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of North Carolina announced last week that they have launched theNorth Carolina Black Advisory Board (BRAB) 

Read More...
Tips for Managing Stress in Your Life

Tips for Managing Stress in Your Life

Written by State Point

Stress is not only unpleasant; it can be overwhelming, ultimately preventing you from solving the problems that caused the stress in the first place. But getting focused can help you feel happier and be more successful professionally, financially and in your relationships, say experts.

Read More...
Voter Suppression: Defeating it requires two massive efforts

Voter Suppression: Defeating it requires two massive efforts

Written by Peter Grear

For black voters, Benjamin Jealous expressed what I believe to be the critical message for black voters when he said that the best way to overcome massive voter suppression is through a massive wave of voter registration.  Thankfully, the NAACP is putting this theory into action through the Youth Organizing…

Read More...
Black Women are Taking Care of Business

Black Women are Taking Care of Business

Written by Freddie Allen

Instead of breaking the glass ceiling, Black women have increasingly started making their own. According to the Center for American Progress, an independent, nonpartisan progressive institute, Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country.

Read More...
Voter Suppression: Is it partisan?

Voter Suppression: Is it partisan?

Written by Peter Grear

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: I’ve been doing commentaries on our Campaign to Defeat Voter Suppression since November, 2013.  Because the right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, I’ve tried to promote a non-partisan theory of voter enfranchisement. 

Read More...
Why vote? ALEC and the Doctrine of Exclusion

Why vote? ALEC and the Doctrine of Exclusion

By Peter Grear

Educate, Organize and Mobilize: Frequently, in going forward it is imperative to examine your history.  In 1638 the Maryland Colony issued a public edict encouraging the separation of the races that became the public policy of America. 

Read More...
Download Greater Diversity News Digital PDF Edition for FREE

Download Greater Diversity News Digital PDF Edition for FREE

FREE Full PDF Edition includes stories not featured on the website

The FREE Full PDF Edition includes stories not featured on the website. No paper, no hasel, read on your laptop or mobile devices. 

Read More...
Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2011 JoomlaWorks Ltd.

Home Page

U.S. Voting Hurdles Remain

Written by Freddie Allen, Washington Correspondent on 17 February 2014.

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – If you thought that the United States Constitution guaranteed your right to vote, think again. “While the right to vote is inherent throughout our founding document, and there are amendments prohibiting discrimination, nothing in the Constitution explicitly guarantees our right to vote. We, as Americans, possess no affirmative right to vote,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) as he introduced the bill he co-sponsored with Rep. Keith Ellison on the floor of the House of Representatives (D-Minn.) last May. The Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment would provide all eligible citizens an affirmative right to vote and make it harder for state and local legislators to pass restrictive voting laws that have disenfranchised Blacks and poor voters in the past.

The bill gained little traction in Congress last year as lawmakers stumbled from one self-inflicted wound to the next. They bounced from the budget sequestration that forced automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that stalled economic growth, to repeated  attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to the government shutdown that cost the economy billions. There was little time to get anything done, let alone constitutional reform, something that neither party has the stomach for.

But the right to vote amendment, restrictive voting laws and election reform were all on the menu during the recent Eighth Annual Voting and Elections Summit, presented by the Overseas Vote Foundation and U.S. Vote Foundation.

The summit featured election experts and voters’ rights advocates who addressed issues related to grassroots innovations in voting, midterm mobilization and new voting technology. Speakers also discussed the most recent developments in voting including the Voting Rights Act of 2014, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s report and last summer’s historic Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision that held that Section 4 of the law was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court demanded that the Congress update the preclearance formula in Section 4 that required states with a history of voting practices that discriminated against Blacks to clear any changes in voting laws in advance with the Justice Department. The court insisted on a more updated formula for determining the states covered under Section 4.

Before the VRA of 1965, Blacks, especially in the South, were subjected to poll taxes, literacy tests, intimidation and sometimes death in effort to vote. After the law was passed, the Justice Department often turned to Section 4 and Section 5 of the VRA to prevent discriminatory voting practices.

“Section 5 [of the Voting Rights Act of 1965] was amazingly effective at blocking the use of new discriminatory practices in the covered jurisdictions,” said Robert Kengle, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

In the wake of the Shelby County v. Holder decision, state legislators rushed to pass new restrictive laws that were once automatically blocked by the Justice Department.

Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a private, nonpartisan, conservative-leaning think tank dedicated to research and education on public policy issues, economics and social welfare, said that Chief Justice John Roberts used “powerfully faulty logic” in his decision in the Shelby County case.

“Imagine there is an intersection which has a long history of people speeding going through the town traffic accidents deaths. So, they put in speed bumps traffic lights speed cameras stiff fines and remarkably over a period of time, no problems, no deaths,” said Ornstein. “Then you get authorities saying, ‘We solved that problem now let’s take out the speed bumps, take out the cameras, never mind the fines.’”

Orstein continued: “And my goodness, before long, mayhem occurs.”

Now, because of the Supreme Court decision, the Justice Department is forced to play whack-a-mole filing lawsuits against the most onerous, most visible voting laws.

“The real problem is you have a lot of these local jurisdictions, nobody is going to have the resources to bring the lawsuits,” said Ornstein. “There will be stuff below the surface that we will not see that will have a real impact.”

In an effort to reverse the damage of the Shelby County v. Holder decision, lawmakers crafted the Voting Rights Act of 2014 in the House of Representatives. The bill requires all states to publicize any last minute changes to voting laws. If a state committed five or more violations in the last 15 years, they would automatically fall under the supervision of the Justice Department.

Cities and counties face a lower threshold under the new bill; if they commit three violations in a 15 year period, the Justice Department can step in and require preclearance for any changes in voting laws and could effectively block laws before they disenfranchise voters. Under VRA 2014, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi would require preclearance for any changes. •

“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) referring to VRA 2014 during his keynote address at the summit. “The bipartisan cooperation that has allowed us to get this far will ultimately carry the day and allow us to meet these challenges made by the Supreme Court and continue strong enforcement around our most fundamental right a sacred right, the right to vote.”

As many voters’ rights advocates applauded the bipartisan effort on the bill they also noted the shortcomings, especially the soft touch given to restrictive voter ID laws.

“Although the Lawyer’s Committee doesn’t agree with every single provision of the act, this is a true demonstration, a meaningful action on this critically important issue for our country,” said Barbara Arnwine, the president and executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Ornstein was less optimistic about the bill.

“Despite the fact that this is sponsored in a bipartisan way there is no appetite in the leadership of the House of Representatives to move a voting rights act. We have to start thinking about other alternatives,” said Ornstein.

Panelists during the afternoon session on breaking down voting barriers also took aim at the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s recent report on the “American Voting Experience.” The commission’s report recommended increasing opportunities for eligible voters to register online, expanding early voting opportunities, upgrading the certification process for voting machines, and increasing training for poll workers.

The panelists acknowledged the limits of the report and noted the commission failed to tackle restrictive voter ID laws that swept in after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shelby v. Holder.

“The commission has no enforcement power. There’s also a question of whether or not the states are listening,” said Gilda Daniels, an associate professor of law at the University of Baltimore. “I don’t see the federal government passing any of these suggestions.”

GDN Link Exchange