Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has voiced opposition to making
Election Day a federal holiday. However, allowing American voters a
more accessible and a stress-free trip to their voting precincts
should be a no-brainer. And, H.R.1 — For the People Act of 2019
would do just that.
depicted the Democratic-controlled House proposal as “a
political power grab,” and mocked the legislation as the
“Democrat Politician Protection Act.”
1 includes a group of voting rights provisions that would “expand
Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of
big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public
servants, and for other purposes.” The bill would improve
access for voters with disabilities and voter turnout. It would
reform automatic voter registration and felon re-enfranchisement. In
other words, H.R. 1 would modernize a century-old bankrupt voting
system to mirror America today; thus allowing for participatory
of the GOP’s continued aversion to diversity — people of
color, LGBTs, immigrants, and Muslims, to name a few — the
tribe has become an aging White nostalgic throwback of Jim Crow days.
the 1964 Civil Rights Voting Act gave African Americans the ballot,
the GOP has had ongoing tactics to suppress minority voting of people
of color. Such old Jim Crow tactics as literacy tests, poll taxes
and grandfather clauses have given way to a new crop of tactics:
random voter roll purging, changing polling locations and/or polling
hours, eliminating early voting days, reducing the number of polling
places, packing majority-minority districts and dividing minority
districts, along with notorious voter ID laws that disproportionately
disenfranchise minority voters. They are all part and parcel of the
Republican game plan to disenfranchise Democratic voters by any means
necessary has both unapologetically and unabashedly shown the
American public the art of what a “power grab” really
looks like. And, McConnell’s party has continued their
no-holds-barred tactics in this century as in the last.
2000, the outcome of the presidential race between Democratic Vice
President Al Gore and Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush was
decided in a recount of Florida ballots due to hanging chads. In
predominantly Black voting precincts, which are overwhelmingly
Democratic, it was reported that piles of ballots were left
uncounted. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission reported that 53 percent
of ballots invalidated by Florida officials were cast by Black
voters. The Florida debacle was settled in Bush’s favor,
winning him the presidency. His brother Jeb was governor at the time.
2013, by a 5-to-4 Republican majority, the U.S. Supreme Court case
Shelby County v. Holder
eviscerated Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). The
section historically protected African Americans and other
disenfranchised people of color and also identified problematic
voting precincts with shameful histories of racial discrimination.
Not surprisingly, these precincts are predominantly GOP strongholds.
The Court ruled that Section 4(b) were outdated. The ruling attests
to the fictive post-racial premise that racial minorities, especially
in the South, no longer confront discriminatory barriers voting.
the time, the VRA applied to nine states in South — Alabama,
Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina,
Texas, and Virginia.
North Carolina’s Black vote increased by 51.1 percent in 2000,
and Blacks had a higher voter turnout with Obama on the ballot in
both 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, the federal court said
that state’s GOP had begun to target Blacks
“with almost surgical precision” to deny them voting
2018, the epic gubernatorial battle between Democratic candidate
Stacey Abrams and Republican candidate Brian Kemp was a bold, brash,
and brazen example of how the Republican “power grab”
works in the state of Georgia. While running for governor, Kemp also
stayed on as Georgia’s secretary of state. As secretary of
state, he oversaw the state’s elections and was responsible for
the “exact match” policy which states that a voter’s
application must “exactly match” their social security or
driver’s license information in order to be approved. According
to the Associated Press, 53,000 applications were put on hold —
70 percent of which were Black voters.
GOP tactics to dissuade people of color from going to the polls
during the midterm elections also impacted and posed challenges for
many transgender voters who transitioned. Many did not have
government-issued photo IDs reflecting their gender. According to the
Williams Institute data, of the 137,000 transgender people who
transitioned and were eligible to vote, approximately 57 percent
(78,000) may not have had the appropriate ID.
1-For the People Act of 2019 would allow those of us who’d too
easily be denied the right to vote.
grew up knowing one of the most influential voices in American
politics, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Chisholm represented my
Brooklyn congressional district for seven terms, from 1969 to 1983.
She was known throughout the neighborhood and the halls of power in
New York City as a force to be reckoned with who was “unbought”
and ”unbossed” (also the title of her 1970 memoir).
learned from her that democracy can only begin to work when those who
are relegated to the fringes of society can begin to sample what
those in society take for granted as their inalienable right. And, it
starts at the ballot box.