This has been a great week for those on the front line defending voter's rights. As reported by Talking Points Memo a federal judge in Ohio on Friday restored early voting rights in the three days before the election, ruling in favor of the Obama campaign.
On Thursday CBS News reported that a federal court has ruled against a Texas law that would require voters to present photo IDs to election officials before being allowed to cast ballots in November.
On Wednesday civic groups and Florida voters scored a decisive victory when a federal judge indicated he will permanently remove controversial restrictions on community-based voter registration drives.
I've watched day one of the Republican National Convention and now I'm really fired up. Now more than ever I'm committed to leveraging the resources of the Marketplace to ensure that our president, Barack Obama, is re-elected.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend who happens to be a conservative Republican. We debated for hours on the state of our country. In his opinion the Democrats are responsible for everything. I expected that response but when I pressed him by asking does the Republican Party have any culpability for where we are today he said "absolutely not". This started our next round of heated discussions until it became obvious that he was not going to give an inch or concede on any points.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”—Dr. Martin Luther King, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Today marks the 49th anniversary of the March on Washington. On August 28, 1963, over 250,000 people assembled in Washington, DC to take a stand against civil injustice. This was notably one of the most important events in the civil rights movement.
My parents are from the South. They grew up during segregation, lynching, the Ku Klux Klan, and Jim Crow. I was the first child born in the North. I grew up during the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party, the rise of the Nation of Islam, the riots, and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and many more. My daughter is growing up through voter suppression, Stop and Frisk tactics, Stand Your Ground laws, and the elimination of the middle class to name a few.
My family history is not unique. Most African-Americans my age with roots in the South can probably tell a similar story. This is our history; this is part of our American experience. Throughout it all one thing has remained constant, our ability to stay the course and persevere.
At least 180 restrictive bills were introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states. There are approximately 47 bills currently pending in 12 states. Since the beginning of last year 24 laws and 2 executive actions in 19 states have been enacted.
Additionally 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that have the potential to impact the 2012 election. These states account for 214 electoral votes, or nearly 79 percent of the total needed to win the presidency. Of these, 13 laws and executive actions are currently in effect in 9 states.
How did this happen? How could 180 bills get introduced without anyone clamoring about it? No media coverage, no press coverage, no nothing. Now that we’re in a presidential election year voter suppression is the hot topic and the focus of everyone’s attention. Sounds like closing the barn door after the horse has left. Now we’re scrambling to fix what we shouldn’t have let happen.
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.