Watching the G.O.P. War on Voting Rights
New America Media | 11/29/2011, 1:25 p.m.
According to Brennan researchers, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to register to vote during voter registration drives in Florida, and new photo I.D. requirements in Texas do not include forms of identification heavily used by minorities.
Several other states including Florida and Michigan are looking at various photo identification requirements, with Mississippi holding a referendum in November regarding a proposal and Missouri slated to vote on a state constitutional amendment in 2012.
"For anyone who thought legal disenfranchisement was a thing of the past, think again."
That's Linnie Frank Bailey, author, columnist and one of the leaders of the Obama Riverside movement during the 2008 election. Bailey, a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post says she fears that history may be repeating itself.
"We are going backwards in terms of civil and voting rights. Looking at the sheer numbers of people who could be affected by this wave of attacks on voter's rights is absolutely frightening."
Bailey recalls in 2008, then- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made an extensive and unprecedented outreach towards young adults to gain their votes. As a result-according to pewresearch.org-young voter turnout was the highest it's been since 1972 (when exit polling was initiated), giving their support to him in record numbers (66 percent of voters under 30 voted Democratic).
Bailey says young people who played a significant role in the election of now President Obama in 2008 have been disengaging from civic and political activities to a degree unimaginable a mere three years ago. But that's about to change she says pointing to growing frustrations on display at "Occupy" movements stretching across the U.S.
"I see a whole new wave of political activism emerging. There was such passion among the president's supporters that was allowed to fizzle out. Now, people are taking to the streets to have their voices heard. For every person out there, there are many more struggling with housing, medical bills, and crippling debt."
Bailey says the Occupy movement is what she and other political organizers expected following the Obama election.
"Non-violent protest, from Gandhi to King, has proven effective in instituting policy changes. However, along with passion you must have purpose. I am waiting to see what the occupiers will work FOR. . .not against."
Meanwhile Emma Green is gearing up to register new voters at her church this weekend. She laments just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar Black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators are determined turn back the clock on hard fought civil rights advances.
Ironically she places the poll tax receipt next to a photograph of last month's dedication of Washington's new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.
"It took a lot of humiliation, and bloodshed to get to that Tidal Basin," she said. "It looks like we still got a long way to go."