Action Alert: Stop Voter Suppression

Written by on July 7, 2015

In most states up north, it’s simple: You go to the polls, give the poll worker your name and, perhaps, your address, and cast your ballot. Voting is a wee bit more complicated — and sinister — in the southland, and if this truly is to be a nation where all are equal under law, that’s got to stop.

My first Tennessee election was in 2014. The first thing that caught my eye upon arriving at the polling place, a south Nashville elementary school, was this:

Requiring ID at polls is a bigger deal than one might suspect.

Requiring ID at polls is a bigger deal than one might suspect.

I am neither stupid nor uninformed, but still, the sight of the sign threw me. It’s not a big deal, for me: I have several legally sanctioned forms of identification; there was no need to worry that my vote would be denied. My thoughts then — they still do — traveled to those who have been and will be refused their right to cast a ballot because they are too old, too poor, too powerless to obtain an ID card.

What’s the difference between that requirement for identification and the historical roadblocks set up throughout the south to keep society’s undesired from participating in the electoral process? Voter ID laws are no different than the poll taxes and literacy tests of old that were in place to keep people the majority deemed too dark or too poor from being allowed their legal right to participate in choosing their elected leaders. That is why the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted — to right those wrongs.

Naturally, modern Republican forces are hard at work trying to turn back the clock on voting rights.

This, from activism-minded progressive phone company Credo Mobile:

In 2013, the right-wing ideologues on the United States Supreme Court handed down a shameful decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act, ending decades of protection for minorities against discriminatory and unfair attempts to limit voting based on one’s race.

The two-year-old SCOTUS ruling was a blow, but it was nothing new for certain USians to try to disenfranchise their darker neighbors. The blog Think Progress offers a valuable history lesson on US voter suppression running from Jim Crow days through the Koch Brothers’ evil maneuvering in Wisconsin in 2010. It also explains why the right wing’s justification for these rules is bogus and why we have to put an end to GOPpers’ sinister and so far successful mission to dismantle the Voting Rights Act.

Conservatives have said voter ID laws are necessary to combat mass voter fraud. Yet according to the Brennan Center for Justice, Americans are more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than commit voter fraud. And the Bush administration’s five-year national “war on voter fraud” resulted in only 86 convictions of illegal voting out of more than 196 million votes cast. Instead conservatives are employing an old tactic: using the specter of false voting to restrict the voting rights of minorities and the poor.

Now, I take nothing quietly; my activist conscience will not allow it. When I showed up to vote last year, I announced to all the poll workers that I was from New Jersey and this would be my first time casting a ballot in the Volunteer State.

From ‘Welcome to the South,‘ on the GDPR site:

I’m new to Tennessee, fresh from “up nawth,” where voter suppression activities are limited to Republican gerrymandering and, perhaps, manufactured traffic jams.

 

So (knowing full well the question was coming) I must have looked disgusted while pulling out my driver’s license; an old woman behind the poll workers’ table chirped, “Welcome to the South.”

I returned the pinched-faced, blue-haired woman’s false greeting with a tight grin and my best clipped northern tones as I handed her my documents: “Bless your heart.”

 

The poll worker’s pasted-on smile faded on the spot.

A warning, right-wingers, racists, fundamentalists, and haters: Do not mess with me.

And to my politeness-first friends, I agree  and generally lead with kindness, but am mindful of Audre Lorde’s wisdom: Your silence will not protect you.

Nashville’s next election is Aug. 6. I will go, with voter card and driver’s license in hand. And I will make another scene of performance activism, because this garbage is offensive to the core and has got to stop.

Meanwhile, Credo Mobile wants you to sign a petition telling lawmakers on Capitol Hill  to get back to ensuring voting rights for all.

Progressive champions in Congress have just introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the Voting Rights Act and stop Republicans in states around the country from enacting racist voter ID and voter suppression laws. We need to keep the pressure on Congress to crack down on racial discrimination in voting.

Sign the petition: Stop voter suppression and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Click here to sign the petition.

Get busy: Sign the petition. And remember, a little creative performance activism goes a long way toward letting Red Tennessee know that progressives are here and we’re not going to be ignored.

And by the way: Today is the deadline to register to vote for the Aug. 6 election. People suffered and died to have this right for all acknowledged. I cannot say your vote won’t be repressed — this is Red Tennessee, after all — but get to the polls and make every effort to vote. And if you haven’t yet, REGISTER TODAY.


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