African American Votes and Voter Suppression
An emergency hearing was scheduled in federal court after the North Carolina NAACP filed a lawsuit to stop county election boards in the state from canceling voter registrations. The group argues that the cancellations are an effort by the state Republican Party to suppress the black vote in the state.

There were reports of mailings to the voters’ addresses was returned as undeliverable. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the lawsuit on Monday night. The DOJ supports the North Carolina NAACP’s argument that removing voters from the rolls en masse is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act. The civil rights group is also seeking to have the canceled registrations restored.

African-Americans have been disproportionately affected by the cancellations. Black voters account for 91 of the 138 canceled registrations (or over 65 percent) in Beaufort County, according to the North Carolina NAACP, even though black people are only 25.9 percent of that county’s population. North Carolina implemented one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country in 2013. It was struck down by a state appeals court in July. The judge found that GOP lawmakers had chosen to mandate specific ID requirements ― as well as to reduce the number of early voting days and to change registration procedures ― in order to undercut black voters.

The North Carolina NAACP previously asked the state to increase early voting hours and submitted four requests for officials to increase the number of early voting sites in counties affected by Hurricane Matthew. Many of those areas have just one voting site, roads that are still underwater and no weekend voting options.

Local area YMCA’s and Churches are asked to help provide a location and voice for community awareness and voter education options. The court restored the week of early voting that the law had slashed, but it left it to local election boards to set the number of polling places and voting hours. This permitted those boards, all of which are led by Republicans, to cut voting hours below what they were for the 2012 election.

What is far more dangerous to the integrity of American elections is the persistent efforts of lawmakers to disenfranchise large numbers of minority voters, rather than to work to win their votes with a party platform that treats them with respect.

Black voters must challenge laws and make their voice heard to their local government. They must issue a call to action even across party lines, and show up and vote. The results can be powerful but will require a joint effort from not only community activists but the local churches as well.

Sources include: huffingtonpost.com, nytimes.com, and newsone.com
 

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