Tag Archives: voting

Possible Voting Restrictions for Blacks and Latinos/as

Recently, many articles have been released about potential threats to voting rights for Blacks and Latinas/os in the upcoming Presidential election. Considering the history of disenfranchisement in this country, the recent news has been alarming for many activist groups. Furthermore, the potential disenfranchisement of several minority voters could possibly be helpful for Republican hopefuls who are looking to for a big election win. For those who are not familiar with the new legislation that has been passed in several states, read the articles below:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/05/civil-rights-naacp-voter-warning

http://www.thenation.com/blog/163755/gop-voting-laws-could-swing-2012-election

http://www.good.is/post/new-voting-restrictions-will-affect-five-million-voters-in-2012/

One of the most interesting sections of the first article was the block quote below:

Studies have showed that the proportion of voters who do not have access to valid photo ID cards is much higher among older African-Americans because they were not given birth certificates in the days of segregation. Students and young voters also often lack identification and are thus in danger of being stripped of their right to vote.

This block quote was interesting for me because it highlighted the intersection between two critical groups: young/student voters and minority voters. As a young student of color, it could possibly seem as though voting is an impossible task. However, instead of feeling defeated, all students should look up the requirements for voting in the their state. If you happen to me an out-of-state student like myself, absentee voting is also a possibility. Check out the link below to see the process:

http://www.brennancenter.org/studentvoting

Sadly, some states have restrictive laws that make it impossible for college students to vote, regardless of their eligibility. Some of the restrictions arise from issues of government identification, residency, and school identification. For more information on this issue, read the articles below:

http://aspanational.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/college-students-denied-voting-rights/

http://campusprogress.org/articles/tennessee_voter_id_law_excludes_college_students/

Overall, the issue of voting restrictions is very problematic. Instead of allowing these political tactics to defeat minority voters, we must educate ourselves about the alternative options available to us. We can spread information about early voting, acceptable forms of identification, required amounts of identification, absentee voting, and so on. Voting is an important right that should not be taken away. The election will be here in no time, and we do have the power to rock the vote and take what is ours.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2011-12-11/early-voting-laws-minority/51816886/1

http://www.declareyourself.com/voting_faq/state_by_state_info_2.html

http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections-campaigns/voter-id-state-requirements.aspx

Voter Registration in Mississippi, from 1964 to 2012

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Tonight a few of us on the board attended a documentary screening in Bronfman, “Mississippi: Is This America? (1963-1964)”, which is part of PBS’ “Eyes on the Prize” Civil Rights series and a discussion on the topic of Nonviolence versus Violence in terms of the Freedom Summer of 1964. Chris Williams, along with myriad other college students, went down to Jackson, Mississippi in 1964 to register black voters and now ironically lives here in Williamstown and was able to share his story with us.

About 20 years after the fall of Reconstruction in 1890, Mississippi created a series of eligibility requirements for voters specifically aimed to disenfranchise blacks and poor whites with poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses. In a state with a ratio of roughly four blacks to one white, Mississippi effectively reversed the voting strength of black voters with fear and bureaucratic red tape.

In order to end this stark voter suppression, The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, but by that time, the KKK and other racist groups violently campaigned to preserve their segregated, white-dominated society and power structure. Perhaps the best-known victims are James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

On the first day of the Freedom Summer, June 21st, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner went out to investigate a black church bombing in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and were arrested later that afternoon on alleged traffic violations and held into the night. Their release from jail was the last time they were seen alive before their badly decomposed bodies were discovered under a nearby dam six weeks later. Goodman and Schwerner had died from single gunshot wounds to the chest, but Chaney, the only black of the group, was also savagely beaten.

What is more disturbing than that tragic story is that history seems to be repeating itself in Mississippi as the state’s Voter ID Law divides blacks and whites all over again. Mississippi voted in favor to amend the state’s constitution that requires voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls, which was seen as a strong public affirmation of the Republican initiative.”The future of the South is rushing to the past,” says Rickey Hill, a professor of black politics and theory at Mississippi Valley State University. “If you look at the new immigration laws proposed throughout the South and the voter ID laws, which amount to racial disenfranchisement, and you take these things together, what we are seeing in the American South is a racial redemption”.

While it can be hard to tell the difference between racial and partisan politics, in Mississippi there is a very clear racial dimension to this when we remember historical context. Democrats have complained about the wave of new election and voter ID laws across the country as a “continued assault on key Democratic voting blocs, including black and Latino voters” voting blocs which will be key for 2012 elections.