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    Archive for the
    ‘voting rights’ Category



    The Unsupervised Classroom: Why Changes to the VRA Opened a Can of Worms

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    I’ve got good news and bad news…and for the sake of ending on a good note, I’ll start with the bad:

    In the summer of 2013, the US Supreme Court reviewed and phased out section 4b of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). (You can read section 4b of the VRA of 1965 here.)

    If all of this doesn’t seem like a big deal, think again. Say “Goodbye,” to Federal Preclearance and brace yourself for the wrath of States Rights.
    Imagine a classroom full of 5th graders. Now, imagine the teacher leaving the classroom unattended for a few minutes. We’ve all experienced it, the classroom becomes a free-for-all: some kids stand on chairs, some throw paper balls, and others take out snacks to sneak a munch or three. Let’s not apply this analogy too strictly, but in a way, when the Supreme Court eliminated section 4b of the VRA, some states took on the persona of an unsupervised 5th grader. In this situation we have 3 students: Arizona, Kansas and Texas.

    Student One: Arizona. Here, it is now required that citizens submit “sufficient” proof of citizenship in order to vote in the upcoming election. (A list of acceptable documentation for proof of citizenship is here.)

    What does this mean? Voters who register with the federal form, and those who have recently moved (since they will have to register in a new county) will be excluded from voting in the upcoming state/local level elections (Governor, Attorney General, etc…) unless they provide additional/affirmed documentation of citizenship.

    *cough* SHOW ME YOUR FREEDOM PAPERS! *cough* Excuse me.

    Student Two: Kansas, where a similar approach has been taken on, first time voters are being prompted to provide proof of citizenship, in addition to fulfilling the requirements on the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) federal form.

    What does this mean? New registrants cannot vote in federal elections unless they provide proof of citizenship. In the event that the new voter sends in the NVRA form only, he/she will be placed on a “suspense list” and will not be permitted to vote until providing proof of citizenship.

    Student Three (my personal favorite): Gool Ol’ Texas, which is prompting voters to provide a photo ID when voting in person.

    What does this mean? Texas voters are now required to present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote in all Texas Elections. (Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID.) Seems fair enough, but what makes this law particularly tricky is that it disproportionately affects minority voters.

    Since elimination of section 4b interferes with enforcement of section 5, lets just say that the Supreme Court opened a figurative can of worms. And while there is nothing wrong with States’ rights, lest we forget, in the past they have been used to justify some more than questionable policies—such as Jim Crow and discriminatory marriage laws.

    Now here’s the good news:

    It’s up to us as to combat voter disenfranchisement. We can pressure our lawmakers by informing, educating, uniting, writing letters, emails, making phone calls and most of all voting. While we may not have the same views, it is our responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard.

    “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” – Justice Ginsburg

    I have a feeling this is the start of what will be an…interesting few years for voter rights in the upcoming elections. Be sure to stay tuned to Rock the Vote for updates and followups on the VRA and state voter legislation.

    And remember…don’t ditch your water repellant gear just yet, it’s still raining out there.

    Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire
    Bio: Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire is currently a senior at Howard University. Majoring in Political Science and minoring in Swahili Studies, she plans to attend law school in the fall of 2015. An avid biker, knitter, painter, movie enthusiast, music junkie, reader and writer, she takes on all tasks with the utmost tenacity and dedication. She also has many leather-bound books, and her apartment smells of rich mahogany.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    HIP HIP! HOORAY FOR MONTRAVIAS KING!!!!

    Friday, October 11th, 2013
    We’d like to give a big ol’ CONGRATS to Montravias King for winning the council race in Elizabeth City, North Carolina!

    Mr. King, an undergraduate senior at Elizabeth City State University, was denied his right to run for a seat on his city council. The county’s Board of Elections claimed that his on-campus address did not meet the residence requirements needed to run for office, even though he has lived there for at least nine months of the year. Since the requirements to run for city council are the same for voting, that would mean that college students in North Carolina would have lost their right to vote (I’m smelling the stanky stench of voter suppression here…).

    Thankfully, the state board overturned the county ruling and reasserted that even though King resides in a university dormitory, his residence in the county as a student still qualifies him to run as a candidate…which means college students can still vote, even if their permanent address is not in the county!

    Even though the state board’s decision was already a victory in itself, the fact that this young, ambitious man has actually now won the council race is definitely cause for celebration. The people have spoken!!! And they’re telling local and state governments to stop messing with their right to an active political voice.

    Congratulations once again, Mr. King! And thank you to everyone else who stood up for him, fought for him, and on behalf of student voting right overall!

    sandywu
    Bio:

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    THE DOJ Dukes it Out for North Carolina Voters

    Monday, September 30th, 2013

    North Carolina’s Voter ID legislation now faces a lawsuit from the Department of Justice (DOJ). The state’s new voting law, implemented after June when the Supreme Court lifted NC’s preclearance requirement on voting laws and procedures, has become increasingly restrictive in terms of acceptable forms of voter identification at the polls. The new election law also eliminates the first week of the early voting period, bans same-day voter registration during that time, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and abolishes the option of provisional ballots.

    The DOJ argues that these conditions are clear violations of the Voting Rights Act because they intentionally discriminate against certain races and age groups. Voter ID supporters assert that such laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, but it’s pretty hard to see how cutting down on voting time will prevent fraud.

    Making it harder for Americans – and only certain Americans at that! – to register, vote, and participate doesn’t sound all too democratic, now does it?

    sandywu
    Bio:

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Victory for Students in North Carolina!

    Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

    September 3, 2013

     

     

    Statement by Amanda Brown, Political Director, Rock the Vote

     

    We would first like to thank Montravias King for his brave and honorable commitment to his community and our country.  He has answered the call to citizenship by voting regularly on Election Day, by volunteering in his community, by running for City Council, and now by speaking out when our freedoms as young Americans are threatened.  He is a role model for us all.

    When this young man and student of Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, bravely decided to run for City Council in order to serve his community – the one he has lived in since 2009, the place he calls home – heshould havelives in a dorm on campus.  He challenged the County, and won.

    This ruling in favor of Montravias King by the State Board of Elections is a real victory for our democracy, and student voting rights everywhere.

    Today we celebrate this victory. 

    As we celebrate, however, we are also vigilant.  This case was a blatant attempt to keep a student from exercising his fundamental rights.  And it was particularly outrageous given the fact that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the rights of students to vote where they go to college, and the state of North Carolina has a statute reinforcing this right for students to vote at their campus address.

    We hope this decision today serves as a lesson that Rock the Vote, our allies, and students everywhere will not be silenced.  Hear our message loud and clear:  no politician can get away with this.  Not in Pasquotank County. Not in any other North Carolina county. Not anywhere!  Any attempt to penalize a young person for being a student by revoking their right to participate in our democracy is unacceptable and un-American and will not stand.

    We say congratulations and thank you to Montravias and to all of the students who came out today. 

    About Rock the Vote

    Rock the Vote’s mission is to engage and build political power for young people in our country.  Founded twenty-two years ago at the intersection of popular culture and politics, Rock the Vote has registered more than five million young people to vote and has become a trusted source of information for young people about registering to vote and casting a ballot.  We use music, popular culture, new technologies and grassroots organizing to motivate and mobilize young people in our country to participate in every election, with the goal of seizing the power of the youth vote to create political and social change.
    .

    Rock the Vote
    Bio: Rock the Vote was founded in 1990 to organize artists and fight against censorship of musicians. Since then we've evolved to focus on empowering young people to get involved in the political process. We use pop culture, peer-to-peer organizing, and the latest technology to raise visibility of politics and demystify the process of registering to vote.
    @rockthevote
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Update: North Carolina Voter ID Bill Passed

    Monday, July 29th, 2013

    Update from RTV Political Director, Amanda Brown on NC Bill:
    (see last week’s blog post for more information. )

    North Carolina’s uber controversial Voter ID Bill passed late Thursday night, becoming the first state in the nation to enact voting law changes without having prior approval from the federal government since the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act.

    The bill could potentially disenfranchise more than 300,000 North Carolina residents — by cutting a week off of early voting, eliminating same-day registration, reducing the types of IDs allowed to government-issued IDs only, and much more.The legislation is now on its way to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.

    Vote Suppressors – 1
    Voters – 0
    Maura
    Bio: Maura graduated from the University of Dayton in 2011 with a BA in International Studies and French. During the course of her studies she was elected Student Body Vice President where she worked to make student activity funding more affordable & fair to the campus community. Following graduation, Maura joined the 2012 Obama Campaign as grassroots Field Organizer in Ohio (the battleground of all battleground states). She now continues her passion of engaging and building political power for young people with Rock the Vote.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com