Standing for Freedom By Defending Voting Rights

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In some states like Wisconsin and Ohio, lawmakers are limiting access to the polls by cutting or even eliminating early and Sunday voting opportunities. These significant cuts force parents, blue-collar workers, students and seniors who do not have the luxury of a flexible schedule to stand in polling lines for as many as eight hours.

[Op-Ed]



Our voting rights are under attack.

In legislatures across the county,
misguided state politicians have proposed, and in too many cases passed,
laws that create obstacles to voting.  That is why on December 10th –
International Human Rights Day – we are taking a stand for freedom in
New York City to let the world know we will not let our right to vote be
taken away without a fight.

Over the last 12 months, 34 states have introduced voter suppression
legislation, with laws passing in 14 of those states, and bills pending
in 8.  These suppression laws can take many forms, but in each case,
they disproportionately impact the rights of people of color, working
women, blue-collar workers, students, seniors, and immigrants.

In some states like Wisconsin and Ohio, lawmakers are limiting access to
the polls by cutting or even eliminating early and Sunday voting
opportunities.  These significant cuts force parents, blue-collar
workers, students and seniors who do not have the luxury of a flexible
schedule to stand in polling lines for as many as eight hours.

Under the guise of preventing voter fraud, states like South Carolina,
Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Texas, politicians have attacked voting rights
by requiring voters to acquire government-issued photo identification
before they cast a ballot.  However, studies show that so little voting
fraud exists that a person is more likely to be struck by lightning then
to impersonate someone in the polling booth.  Moreover, while states
are required to provide photo IDs for free, the underlying instruments
needed to obtain the identifications, like a certified copy of a birth
certificate, are not and can be very expensive.

Other voter suppression techniques making their way into law across the
country include stripping voting rights from rehabilitated criminal
offenders, eliminating same-day voter registration/voting and targeted
purging of African American and Latinos on registered voter rolls.

These attacks on voter participation mimic those used nearly a century
ago that led to the era of Jim Crow.  What we learned from those attacks
is that the war on attack on voting rights is merely a gateway to
restrict many of our other rights, including our right to organize, our
right to clean air, our right to negotiate, and even our right to
privacy.

Our rights are far too important to let self-serving politicians and
their wealthy corporate supports take them away.  We must defend our
rights.  We must have our voices heard.  On Saturday, December 10th, we
must stand for freedom.

For more information, please visit the website at  www.stand4freedom.org.

Dr. Hazel N. Dukes is President-NAACP New York State Conference



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