Project Wonderful

Friday, May 11, 2012

Today In Voter Suppression-The New Jim Crow

I was really excited to share my notes from an incredibly powerful lecture by Benjamin Jealous, head of the NAACP, where he talked about how efforts to keep former convicts from voting, coupled with the disproportionate rate of incarceration among black men were another form of voter discrimination and suppression. As educated as I try to be on this issue, Jealous made me realize that the history of racist, round-about voter suppression in our country is many times longer and more pervasive than I had ever imagined. This was a week after Trayvon Martin was shot, so things were pretty real.

Unfortunately, midterms happened I lost my notes from that lecture. Then I found this live tweet from the event but was disappointed to see relatively little of Jealous' speech included but I was delighted to see Michelle Alexander on the Colbert Report (above) because she explains the situation better than I possibly could. I invite you to read over the event tweets as well because they contain some pretty salient points.

Did you know, for example, that you are more likely to be stuck by lightning twice than to meet someone who has committed voter fraud? Benjamin Jealous told me so. I googled this and it turns out to be true, or at least widely circulated on the internet, in some iteration or another. (Some have it as struck by lightening three times than to commit voter fraud, etc.) That really puts these laws in perspective, huh?

Here is Jealous in an interview:
The reality is -- there was an argument for the poll tax. There was an argument for the literacy test. There was an argument for keeping women from voting. And they were all phrased in terms of vote security. Women it was argued shouldn't vote because if she was married, her husband would have two votes because he would tell his wife how to vote. People who couldn't pass the literacy test didn't know enough to be allowed to vote, and could be too easily influenced by others. Vote security is a real issue, but the poll tax didn't make voting more secure, discrimination against women didn't make voting more secure, and nor will voter ID. It's a solution without a problem.

George Bush had his Department of Justice spent five years looking for these types of impersonation cases, and in five years after analyzing millions of votes cast they came up with 86 cases -- in five years. We have sufficient prosecutors in the Department of Justice to handle an 86 case over five years case load."

I can't wait to read this book and I suggest that you do too!


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