I would like to speak to you in the beginning of the year 2022. My concern is focused on Texas restrictions on how and when voters can cast ballots.
You will find in 2021 there was 52 restrictive voter laws passed in various states across the country. These laws limit options to vote and undermine local elections officials’ ability to hold elections. In our great state of Texas SB.1 would have election officials face prosecution for regulating poll watchers’ inappropriate behavior in the polling place. These laws tighten election laws and constrain local control of elections by limiting counties’ ability to expand voting options.
Because of the restrictive voting legislation in states, Congress chose to introduce two voter rights bills: Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. These bills have broad support from the general public.
The U.S. Constitution I read states in Article I Section 4, “The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations.”
The right to vote is so important I wonder why don’t we vote? People vote for their government officials and these officials represent the concerns and ideas of the citizens in government. We love to complain, but to apply complaints through the vote, a morepowerful action.
African American News and Issues has highlighted the work of many our elected officials. In a recent conversation with State Representative Senfornia Thompson, she mentioned something critical. Her research informs us that we have the ability to significantly impact elections in Harris County.
She reminded me that we came within 23,000 votes of flipping the Texas House. Only 5.2 million Democrats voted and there was over 10 million registered Democrats. Regretfully, 5.7 million Democrats did not vote. There are approximately 5.3 registered Republicans. Representative Thompson emphasized that the Democratic Party estimates 51% of the voting population of Texas are Democrats, but Republicans are more likely to vote. Again, Representative Thompson stressed that Democrats must run a superior election strategy to overcome these type results in future elections.
Our education system alsi bears some responsibility. Our schools have done a poor job of building a sense of civic responsibilities in our citizens. We have lost much of the zeal we had for voting.
Maybe the lack of poll taxes, the beatings of police and dogs attacking our older citizens and children have made us numb to voting to a means of change.
Courageous men, women and children stood strong for the right to vote. Many put their lives on the line. Yes, some were injured, some lost their lives, and they never stopped marching. Thanks to their bravery and their desire for democracy, we obtained progress.
Unfortunately, that progress and movement of many into the middle class has caused some to forget what it took to obtain the rights we have today, as they rest behind gated communities. For some, the delusion that discrimination has been eliminated because we have had a African-American President is unbelievable.
The right to vote is the most enshrined right in the Constitution and is protected by five separate amendments. Texas has joined other Republican states that have enacted new voting restrictions following the 2020 election and gerrymandering based on the most undemocratic retrogression. The legislation creates new barriers for marginalized voters. Understand, these laws will disproportionately harm voters of color and voters with disabilities.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, conservative state legislatures have wasted no time in passing various restrictions aimed at abridging the right to vote.
Justice Roberts, was interesting when writing for the majority in Shelby County v. Holder. He felt things have changed, and “no longer are there blatant discriminatory evasions of federal decrees.”
“These acts or rare,” says Roberts. When Roberts worked in the Attorney General William French Smith’s Justice Department, he described the Voting Rights Act preclearance process as “humiliating to the South” Dr Cornel West points to the developing crisis in black leadership.
He suggests in his book Race Matters. “while the quantity of politicians and intellectuals is so great, why is the quality of both groups so low. Just when one would have guessed that Black America was flexing its political and intellectual muscles, rigor mortis seems to have set in”
Why is there a lack of unity toward a common vision? West’s opinion unveals what may explain this lack of unity, “Without a credible sense of political struggle, there can be no shouldering of a courageous engagement – only cautious adjustment is undertaken.”
He states further, “we need forums to reflect, discuss, and plan how best to respond. With emphasis, he suggests, “we need serious strategic and tactical thinking about how to create new sustainable models of leadership and build the kind of persons who are able to actualize these models.”
Citizens must demand accountability. People running for office should be more concerned about what is best for the people they serve, as opposed to what would benefit them personally.
Barbara Jordan reminded us “More is required of public officials than slogans and handshakes and press releases. More is required. We must hold ourselves strictly accountable. We must provide the people with a vision of the future.”
So, in this year 2022, will we allowed government to restrict how and when voters cast ballots. To do so my friends will be a decision you will soon regret. We live in perplexing times. Our children are killing each other and their families, often feeling remorse after the deadly act is done.
We now watch in real time the rise in racial violence, imagine what would happen if governments we would go back to laws expanding segregation. How would feel if states reenacted black codes to assure the rebirth of white supremacy, and legitimize political violence. Are you really ready to give permission to lynch mobs, the Ku Klux Klan, militias and other groups to commit acts of terrorism against black communities.
Understand, there are people wishing democracy, as we know it would fade away and be replaced by rules used when a collection of state and local statutes legalized racial segregation. If these practices return, excuses will not be good enough when we could gave saved ourselves. Stand up for our children and those that are yet unborn.