on civil rights to the days when voting was used as a tool for political control and exclusion. The “centuries-old blight” now has a 21st century disguise. The latest restrictions include strict photo identification requirements limited to certain forms of government-issued ID, cuts on early voting and absentee voting, and new requirements for registration that make it much more difficult for voters to prove citizenship and residency and register to vote at all. The changes threaten to disenfranchise millions of people, and studies show young, minority, and low-income voters and voters with disabilities will be most affected. “It’s no coincidence that a nationwide rollback in voting rights for America’s most vulnerable citizens is happening just as elected officials mount unprecedented campaigns to slash investments in education and economic development,” said National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial, as his organization launched their Occupy the Vote campaign on March 7. “[A] coordinated effort is underway to exclude from the political process the very citizens whose futures hang in the balance.”
Of course, our true most vulnerable citizens – children – have no vote and no voice. And all parents and adults concerned about the future have a responsibility to them to vote and make our own votes count. But when powerful forces start to chip away at the right to vote for some Americans, they threaten the American promise for all Americans. No American should be complicit in allowing this to happen.
The courts and state legislatures are taking a second look at some of these changes as the presidential primary process continues and the 2012 elections grow closer – and so the time to take action against new voter suppression laws is right now. As Rep. John Lewis prepared to participate in the Selma to Montgomery march, he said, “Forty-seven years ago I spilled a little blood on that bridge but that was nothing compared to those who died so that we could live in a better America. We march today for what we did 47 years ago – for what is fair, what is right and for what is just.” The sacrifices made during the Civil Rights Movement must not be undermined today. The “command of the Constitution” is still “plain,” and denying Americans the right to vote is still “deadly wrong.” Do you know the voting policies in your own state? Educate yourself and join others to speak out and defeat threats to voting rights now.