Since September, Patricia Ferguson and I have participated in town hall meetings across the state, sponsored by the NC Legislative Black Caucus and the NC Democratic Caucus. Our topic is and has been the defeat of voter suppression. In the coming weeks we’ll share our observations, fears and suggestions necessary to understand and defeat voter suppression. Strategically voter suppression targets are the coalition partners and participants that elected President Barack Obama, also known as the Obama coalition. In future editorials we will analyze those partners and participants. However, in this, my first voter suppression editorial, we’ll target black voters. It is my considered opinion that modern voter suppression is the greatest threat to blacks and the black community since segregation and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Voter suppression is not a new idea or phenomena in world or US politics. It is a historical tool that those in power often resort to to maintain their power. Among other historical restrictions on voting, in historic England, voting was restricted to male property owners. In early America, voting was restricted to white males. I start with modern day voter suppression in 1965 with the passage of The Voting Rights Act.
Starting in 1965 southern, conservative Senators began abandoning the democratic party and joining the republican party to continue their fight against the historic Civil Rights Movement and the then current Voting Rights Act. It is important to understand that even with the passage of The Voting Rights Act, many historic suppression laws remained intact. The classic example of a voter suppression tactic that remained unchecked by The Act was at-large voting schemes.
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Many politically savvy people are totally unaware of many suppression tactics. To understand voter suppression and it’s threat to your right to vote I suggest reviewing its definition by Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_suppression. It is also imperative to understand the evolution of modern day voter suppression. The reality is that it is evolving on a national blueprint financed and coordinated by ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council).
Voter suppression laws are being introduced and passed by republican controlled state legislatures across the country. The republican controlled legislatures that had full control prior to 2012 have a head start on North Carolina in voter suppression legislation. 2013 was the legislative session that the republicans controlled both chambers and the governor’s office. They gave you what has come to be know as the “Monster Laws”, the first iteration of massive voter suppression in North Carolina. What we expect and fear is that without a democratic victory in 2014, the legislative session of 2015 will bring you the second iteration of voter suppression laws or “Monster Laws 2”. There are many ways to predict what Monster Laws 2 will look like but for a preview look at the recent laws enacted in Texas and Wisconsin.
Our efforts are designed to educate and activate a community response to the serious threat of voter suppression. We’d like ideas and support to this initiative. Resources under development are www.defeatvotersuppression.com, where you can read, copy and endorse our resolution to defeat voter suppression, defeatvotersuppression our Facebook group that you should join and firstname.lastname@example.org where you should send ideas, comments and questions and “like” us on Facebook.
Next week, the impact of voter suppression on women. •