Welcome Back, Jim Crow

New laws in dozens of states could take out Barack Obama this fall

Welcome Back, Jim Crow

Around noon on a windy fall Sunday, the motorcade began forming. Dozens of African-Americans, ages five to 85, poured from the three-story New Covenant Baptist Church and into a coughing 20-year-old bus, a cramped church van, and their cars.

The caravan snaked down Rio Grande Avenue, turned onto Kaley Street, and passed beat-up buildings and old houses downtown. Ten minutes later, it stopped at the county election supervisor's office, where 150 church members filed inside to cast their ballots, all for Barack Obama.

"It was like a crusade," remembers Randolph Bracy, a charismatic, athletic 67-year-old minister. "There was great pride. We were going to vote for the first African-American president."

Justin Renteria

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That was "Souls to the Polls" 2008 in Orlando. It can't happen this year.

It's illegal.

In a brazen attempt to steal this fall's election, Florida's Republican lawmakers have outlawed voting on Sunday, an African-American tradition. Indeed, across the United States, from Montana to Maine and Texas to Tennessee, 41 states have recently passed or introduced laws to restrict voter registration and early voting, and generally limit suffrage.

It's the greatest show of racially fueled political chicanery since turn-of-the-century laws banned scores of African-Americans from casting ballots. More than 5 million voters—largely minority—could be kept from the polls, according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.

"When Jim Crow was passed, [segregationists] said because of this plan, the darkie will be eliminated as a factor in elections in five years," says Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP's national president and CEO. "We beat that. But now these state governments are doing the same thing, disenfranchising entire blocks of black and Hispanic voters."

For decades, Southern states barred African-Americans from voting through white supremacist tricks such as literacy tests. That practice mostly ended in 1965, after America watched cops gassing and clubbing voting-rights demonstrators marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. The law, said then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, was "a turning point in man's unending search for freedom."

In the years that followed, there were more attempts to cheat minorities at the polls. One was a law in many states that blocked felons from voting and made it difficult to get reinstated. Largely because of zero tolerance for drug crimes, this measure affected one in 12 black men.

A new scam started in Arizona in 2004, when voters approved a law to require not only an ID to cast a ballot but also proof of citizenship to register. The measure has been plodding through the courts ever since, and the citizenship provision was recently ditched. But one California federal judge who heard the case on appeal, Harry Pregerson, noted that "intimidation keeps Latino voters away from the polls."

In 2006, Missouri required voters to show a state or federal ID at the polls. It sounded logical. But supporters failed to emphasize that a quarter of blacks and almost as many Latinos lack this documentation. "The absurdity of these rules was pretty clear," says Missouri secretary of state Robin Carnahan. "A Supreme Court judge said he was old and had let his license expire. Could he vote? And we had a member of Congress who couldn't use his congressional ID to vote."

The Missouri Supreme Court threw out that measure, but two other states—Indiana and Georgia—passed their own ID requirements that the U.S. Supreme Court has since rubber-stamped.

These earlier attacks pale in comparison to last year's blitzkrieg, when Republicans —who had taken control of 57 state House and Senate chambers in 2010—began to contemplate this fall's presidential election. They had seen minority voters turn out en masse to vote for Obama and were determined to turn the tide.

In just the past 18 months, 13 states have passed laws that require voters to show ID. In several of those locales, including Minnesota, the governor vetoed the bills, but most of the others will likely take effect before this fall's election.

In Texas, which is under federal scrutiny because of past attempts to dupe minorities, the U.S. Department of Justice blocked the measure. Twenty percent of that state's voters are Latino—and are far more likely to lack photo IDs, the feds found. The law, says Camila Gallardo, national spokesperson for the Latino rights organization La Raza, was "an affront to everyone. They are attacking the core of our democracy, which is open participation."

Gallardo was born in Santa Clara, California, to a Cuban-American family. She points out that her grandmother, who emigrated from the island long ago, never needed a driver's license or bothered with a passport but has been allowed to vote in that state because she is a citizen. California is one of the few states that have stayed clear of the great anti-minority backlash.

On the other side of the nation, however, Florida has moved to the top of the class when it comes to discrimination. Federal courts are considering the Republican leadership's attempts to not only outlaw Sunday voting but also severely limit voter registration.

The laws being challenged, for instance, require anyone who helps voters sign up with the state to submit all registration documents within 48 hours. Last week, a federal judge in Tallahassee blocked some parts of the law, but let others—like the prohibition on Sunday voting—stand. To date, the registration requirements have proven so difficult to meet that even groups such as the Boy Scouts of America have given up on registering voters this year.

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15 comments
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Sunday prohibition is a "Blue Law", and presumably unconstitutional. Now there's an irony for you. All of those good, religious folk being barred from the poles, because they ran afoul of a "blue" law. And to reinforce your learning, I post poetry at poetry.com, owned by an outfit from Utah. Connect the dots. I realize they want to keep things squeaky clean for Grandma, but the auto censor got me at the word, "SPUNK". Think about it. Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Pendragon3
Pendragon3

Juvenile and inappropriate. Any credibility you MAY have had is now gone and others see it.

Fritz the Cat
Fritz the Cat

Be sure to help the minority men voting who need their cocks sucked, too.

Guest
Guest

The Florida Dep't of Law Enforcement (the FDLE) looked at voter fraud and found that absentee ballots "are the vehicle of choice...for voter fraud." FDLE, "Voter Fraud Issues" (1998). Yet the new law didn't touch absentee ballots. You still do not need to show photo ID to vote absentee in Florida. But the GOP relies much more heavily on absentee ballots than do the Dems. So the new law, allegedly needed to prevent voter fraud, ignores the real fraud. Game, set, and match.

yes
yes

Perhaps you could suggest how persons who lack the financial or documentary means necessary to secure an ID would be able to get one? No one seems to be concerned about how to make sure the people who are entitled to vote are able to. Instead, the only concern is making sure people who shouldn't be voting (whoever that may be) aren't. The fact that such laws have been hurried through in an election season seems to speak less to the idea of making sure that there is a fair vote and more like an extra obstacle that disenfranchised voters who might not vote for your team would have to undertake in order to take part in what is probably one of the most important and symbolic acts of democracy. You can argue till you're blue in the face about how we should require identification for voting, but my point still remains.

Pendragon3
Pendragon3

The issue is not whether a group of people is intelligent enough to get an ID. The issue is not whether it is appropriate to require an ID to vote - it is. The issue is that these states chose this moment in time to add extra burdens to voting that clearly affect minorities - states that have higher immigrant populations. (That is too coincidental to be a coincidence.) They waited until it became apparent that Obama might win again. The issue is WHAT they are doing AND the TIMING people. Angel C and MassJim ignore the issue of forbidding voting on Sunday. WTF? That's convenient. But more to the point - how is it reasonable to demand that someone HELPING voters sign up submit all registration documents within 48 hours? So volunteers helping voters register must register?!? WTF? They want to LIMIT voter registrations?!? WTF?!? These are clear attempts to keep certain people away from the polls. But no matter - I and many, many, many others will be volunteering very early on to help voters and prospective voters get what the need. I've traveled to another state before for voter registration drives and will do so again.

Angel C
Angel C

It's not racist to require an ID to vote... It IS racist to assume minorities are too incompetent to GET an ID

Joshua Wells Lee
Joshua Wells Lee

Do we continue to divide oursleves or should we be focusing our energy on trying to solve the problem? What is best for the country instead of what is best for the people trying to control the country? What is the answer? http://www.americalostindelusion.com

MassJim
MassJim

Next the Village Voice will be claiming that not allowing illegal aliens to vote is "racist". Unbelievable what intellectual pretzel bending some people will go through to prove a non existent point. I need an ID to buy a gun or buy ammunition. A photo ID was needed to get onto the floor of the Massachusetts Democrat Party convention this past weekend. You need an ID to perform all sorts of basic functions in modern society. The government ought to require an ID to vote. Period.

RDesroc
RDesroc

ahh...not that it means anything but the content of the article suggests it is..so FYI Maine mentioned above is about 85% white.

Now the Real Story: Question 1 to voters asked: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires New voters to register to vote "at least 2 business days" prior to an election?” This was aimed at out of state students of colleges/universities not holding Maine residency status but declaring such on that one day. Now photo ID is an issue and suddenly it is about Gramma has no ID how will she vote. But you can read it here: http://bangordailynews.com/201...

Leslie G.
Leslie G.

Trying to keep people from voting is just AWFUL.

SAKARA
SAKARA

having a driver's licence for i.d. is racist?

not voting on sunday is racist?

but a village voice cover with a noose isnt racist?

the village voice noose cover seems to cross the line into being racist.

Obama Eats Dogs
Obama Eats Dogs

Well duh. Of course the New Black Panthers shouldnt stop people from voting. But the New Black Panthers did stop people from voting against Obama.

 
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