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Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Isaac Newton Farris Jr came together to oppose Voter ID Laws on the site that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects the rights to vote of minorities.
In Selma, Ala. this past weekend, Reverend Al Sharpton held a news conference to voice his opposition and shed light on the wave of states attempting to hinder the right to vote of valid U.S. Citizens on the site of "Bloody Sunday," the event that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Rev. Sharpton and others expressed their belief that these laws are not an attempt to end voter fraud but rather to suppress the votes of minorities. These bills are political weapons, fighting a political agenda rather than attempting to fix a problem of voter fraud (of which there is little evidence).
"Bloody Sunday" refers to the first of three marches from Selma to Montgomery, held on March 7, 1965 by civil rights activists to call attention to the violation of their civil rights. During the march, the activists were attacked by 600 local and state law enforcement officers armed with tear gas and nightsticks. Images of beaten marchers appeared in newspapers the next day, and led to the vocal support for the Civil Rights Movement from President Lyndon Johnson and the introduction of the legislation now known as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
On the site of this momentous turning point for the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. Sharpton and others addressed the trend of Voter ID legislation. "It could literally cost this election, but also others," Sharpton said. "This could permanently undermine the minority vote, which would defeat the whole purpose of the Voting Rights Act."
America Votes stands committed to opposing all attempts to take the right to vote from American citizens. Legislation to require ID in order to vote is a form of voter suppression.
The Virginia Senate has approved laws that would restrict the right to vote while loosening the restrictions on stockpiling guns.
Last week, the Virginia Senate put its stamp of approval on a law requiring voters to provide a valid photo ID in order to vote. This made Virginia the latest of many states to have its legislative body approve legislation to strip the right to vote from people without ID. Claiming that the law is necessary to fight voter fraud, the truth is there is virtually no hard evidence that voter fraud is a rampant problem anywhere across the country. With this fact, it is apparent that this law is a political weapon rather than a tool to maintain untainted elections. In Virginia, voters without ID sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury saying they are who they say they are and then vote using a regular ballot, yet Republicans feel that this not enough.
Almost simultaneously, the Virginia Senate approved legislation repealing the ban which mandated that people could only buy a single handgun a month. Claiming that the law, which was put in place nearly 20 years ago in an effort stop illegal gun running out of Virginia, is no longer necessary given the advancement in background check technology at the federal level.
So the Virginia Senate is taking the right to vote from people with one hand while giving the right to buy multiple firearms a month with the other. Americans have the right to bear arms and the right to vote. It seems wrong that the Virginia Senate would value one of these rights above another, especially in this order.
America Votes stands opposed to any legislation that infringes on our right to vote. Please join us in opposing restriction on the right to vote.
The Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care is a coalition of America Votes and many other partners to ensure women's health care is protected. The coalition believes that women should have access to birth control no matter where they work.
In recent days President Obama has been critized for his mandate that all employers, including religious institutions, provide women with access to contraceptives. Today, he announced that employers at religiously-affiliated would not be required to provide women with access to contraceptives, but they would recieve them at no cost from insurance companies.
Although the President may have addressed the issues religious employers had, women's health care is still under attack. For example, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt who said he will, "... continue to work with (his) colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that (they) reverse this...mandate in its entirety.”
In response to the opposition, America Votes joined the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care, which is a coalition with many partners to ensure women's health care is protected.
Please be sure to check out the website and join the movement: http://www.coalitiontoprotectwomenshealth.org/
The assualt on the right to vote has taken another shift.
Taking the fight against voting rights to a whole new level, South Carolina Representative Alan Clemmons has introduced a bill requiring groups wishing to hold voter registration drives to register with the State Elections Commission and to fine them if they fail to turn in a registration form within five days of holding the event. The fines could range anywhere from $50 all the way to $1,000.
Voter registration drives are held by all types of organizations across the country, but one of their universal traits is that an overwhelming amount of new voters are elderly, low income or disabled voters. According to the ACLU, in November 2010 black voters were four times more likely to register through voter registration drives than white voters. Voter registration drives perform a valuable service and the idea that they will be fined for failure to turn in forms within five days will undoubtedly cause organizations to think twice about holding them. So then the people that benefit the most from these efforts will be left out in the cold due to the desire of a few to see limits placed, once again, on who can vote and who cannot.
This is not South Carolina's first attack on voting rights in recent years. South Carolina passed a law last year requiring voters to provide a valid photo ID in order to check in at the polls. Last week, however, the Obama Administration struck down this law saying that it would disproportionately disenfranchise African-Americans. The Voting Rights Act forbids states such as South Carolina from enacting any provision that would "lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise."
This is just another example of the assault on the right to vote that has cropped up in the last few years. Join America Votes in protecting of right to vote and oppose any ballot measure that would restrict the right to vote.
The last year has seen an onslaught of attacks on the right to vote.
Last April, the Kansas Legislature approved a law requiring voters to provide a photo ID to check in at the polls starting the first of this year. The law also stated that starting January 1, 2013 anyone registering to vote for the first time must provide proof of U.S. citizenship. The law was supposedly designed to prevent election fraud. However, following a plea from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the Kansas House Election Committee will introduce a new bill to require first time voters to provide proof of citizenship starting June 15, 2012. Essentially, the Kansas Legislature is doubling down on its efforts to hinder the right to vote.
What this means is that this law will be enacted just in time to hinder voter registration for this fall's Presidential Election. If the Secretary of State and Legislature were acting solely on the belief that this would solve a problem of voter fraud in our election system -- a misguided view -- they would stand by the law already on the books. However, this most recent attempt is just an example of trying to influence an election by any means necessary. Presidential Elections not only have the highest turnout, they have the highest amount of registrations. By moving the requirement to provide proof of residency to June, the Legislature is in fact hoping to influence the election by violating our civic rights.
Abuse of powers like this have become very common in the last year as more and more states try to decide who should have the right to vote and who should not. A Brennan Center for Justice study showed that about 7% of Americans, and that a disproportionate amount of that 7% make less than $25,000 a year, do not have access to citizenship documents. Additionally, it notes that these documents do not always reflect the person's current name, for example they show a married women's maiden name.
Voting is considered to be one of our civic duties/right. Join America Votes in speaking out against laws that would infringe upon this right.
Thank you to everyone who joined us at the 2012 State Summit this week -- we hope you found the panels helpful.
New Hampshire voters are finding all kinds of barriers to voting this election season. So far, America Votes and the League of Women Voters have had reports of already registered voters being told they can't have an absentee ballot unless they produce a government-issued photo ID, and other voters are being told there is no Democratic Primary Election this year, only a Republican Primary Election.
Here are the facts: you do not need a photo ID to get an absentee ballot, a ballot on Election Day or, even to register to vote (see below). If you are a Republican, you can vote in the Republican Primary Election on January 10. If you are a Democrat, you can vote in the Democratic Primary Election on January 10. If you are undeclared (independent), you may choose to vote in either Primary Election and then, usually, change your registration back to undeclared before you leave the polls.
In New Hampshire you may register to vote at the Town Clerk's Office or with the Supervisors of the Checklist up to 10 days before the Election, or at the polling place on Election Day. You should bring the best identification information you have but, if you don't own a driver's license, passport or other photo ID, you can request a waiver (“affidavit”) to sign for your identification and for your address.
You may vote with an absentee ballot up to the day before an election. No Town or City Clerk should ask you for a photo ID before giving you an absentee ballot. If you're asked for a photo ID, refuse the request, and tell the clerk to check your registration signature if he or she questions your identity. The law clearly states they are supposed to check your signature when they receive your absentee ballot.
There is no requirement to show a photo ID to register to vote or before receiving a ballot. As long as you are at least 18 years old and a citizen who lives in the voting district, you have the right to vote under the U.S. and N.H. Constitutions. There are 30,000 to 50,000 voting age citizens in New Hampshire -- mostly the elderly and young people -- who do not possess a N.H. driver's license or other government ID. They deserve to have their votes count.
For a fuller explanation of voters’ rights, you can check the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire website.
Below is a guest blog post from Joan Flood Ashwell, an election law expert for the League of Women Voters in New Hampshire:
New Hampshire has had a proud tradition of hosting the first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary Election but this year's election may be remembered more for voter confusion and a not-so-subtle attempt to deny the vote to targeted groups of New Hampshire voters.
There's been a full scale war against voters going on in New Hampshire for the past year. America Votes and the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire have taken the lead in fighting back against every attempt to pass voter suppression legislation.
So far, the current leadership of the New Hampshire Legislature has been unsuccessful when it comes to actually passing legislation but their obsessive efforts to suppress the vote are taking a toll on New Hampshire's voters.
Bills that would have barred college students from the voting booth, ended same-day voter registration in New Hampshire and required already registered voters to show a photo ID to get a ballot on Election Day have all been defeated.
Voters, understandably, have become confused by the constant barrage of bills (another half-dozen have been introduced this session). And it's not just the voters. The League has surveyed the websites of 330 cities and towns and found a dismaying amount of misinformation or lack of information to help voters know their rights. This was brought to the Secretary of State's attention last fall and also for the Presidential Primary Election on January 10. If towns have incorrect information on their websites, what are voters being told at local polling places?
Last fall, one town decided to ask for photo IDs before handing out ballots in a special election because they heard that there would probably be a photo ID law in the future. In the past week, America Votes has received reports from a different city of voters being told they can't get an absentee ballot without a photo ID. Another voter was told that there is no Democratic Presidential Primary this year, only a Republican Primary! These are examples of election officials who are also confused about voting in New Hampshire. And, it really didn't help when earlier this week, NBC Nightly News incorrectly stated that voters have to show photo ID to obtain their ballots on Tuesday.
Correct information about registering to vote can be found on the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire website: http://lwvnh.org/elections.html
America Votes will be in the Legislature on Presidential Primary Day to hear another bill on voting being introduced in the Transportation Committee. Not only is it a break with tradition to hold Legislative sessions on Election Day, but a hearing on a bill about votin
rights in the Transportation Committee.
All of this hardly seems to be the way for New Hampshire to celebrate its tradition of holding the first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary.
The fight over right-to-work legislation in Indiana has become increasingly complicated for unions and other supporters of labor as their attempts to protest the passing of this legislation is now more difficult in light of new capacity restrictions in the Statehouse. “The fire marshal determined the Statehouse could safely hold 3,000 people at one time. With about 1,700 state employees and lawmakers in the building every day, that leaves room for up to 1,300 more people,” according to the Indiana Economic Digest.
“This is suppression of workers’ speech,” said Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne. “It’s a deliberate attempt to hide what they want to do, which is to destroy unions and reduce wages for working people. It’s arrogance – it’s almost beyond belief.”
On top of those limitations, special groups are being allowed access to the Statehouse through e-mailed waivers, further limiting the amount of people allowed to have their voices heard while speaking up against the right-to-work legislation. A prayer group was granted special access to the Statehouse through an e-mail that instructs members of the group to avoid the crowds of protesters by coming in through a side entrance and showing security guards a print-out of the email. By actions such as this, the state now can pick and choose who to allow into a building that is supposed to be for the citizens of Indiana.
**UPDATE** On Wednesday, Governor Mitch Daniels rescinded the crowd limit for the Statehouse that critics say was aimed at protesters. Daniels said "Democrats and media coverage of the change influenced the decision to change the policy back." The Governor also said he is dedicated to keeping the crowd at safe levels, but is not looking to limit public access.
America Votes has a new D.C. address.