This week the National Urban League (NUL) released a report on July 17 that shows how important the African-American vote is in determining the outcome of the November presidential election. In a conference call with reporters the day before, NUL President Marc Morial said that his and other organizations are working in concert to ensure that African-Americans meet or exceed their 2008 turnout and to educate them about new voting regulations in every state that has implemented tougher new voting laws. But in an "Open Letter to African Americans," syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. lamented not only those laws but Black voters' response to them. "There is a sustained effort to suppress the black vote as we approach this pivotal election," he wrote. "And what is our response? Silence."
Here's the latest voting rights news.
Florida: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott on Monday granted Florida access to its list of non-citizens who are ineligible to vote, which will enable the state to move forward with its voter purge, the Associated Press reports. Democrats and other voting rights activists have argued against voter purges so soon before the November elections and say that if mistakes are made there will be little or no time to correct them. Scott's administration had sued Homeland Security for the list, and the governor said that the access "marks a significant victory." Jonathan Brater, a Brennan Center for Justice attorney, told AP that Florida must be more "transparent and accurate" in its purge and "leave enough time for voters targeted for removal to be notified and correct errors."
NAACP: The addresses delivered last week by Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden at the NAACP's annual convention in Houston included impassioned pleas to fight tougher voter ID laws that could affect African-American voter turnout in the fall. Holder called the laws "poll taxes" and pledged to aggressively fight them. Biden expressed dismay that the fight for voting rights continues today, which he'd never imagined would be the case. "[Republicans] see a different future where voting is made harder, not easier. Where the Justice Department is even prohibited from challenging any of those efforts to suppress votes," he said. Republican Mitt Romney also addressed the civil rights organization, but voting rights was not on his list of talking points.
Texas: Following a weeklong trial during which attorneys for the state of Texas argued in favor of new voting laws that opponents say will disproportionately and adversely affect African-American and Latino voters, the justices hearing the case had some tough questions. Under the law, many people would have to travel long distances, in some cases, 100 miles or more, to obtain the voter ID cards. The voter ID cards are free. "The burden falls disproportionately on minorities because minorities are disproportionately poor," said Appeals Court Judge David Tatel. "You have to have evidence that it will not have a retrogressive effect." A decision in the case is expected by summer's end.
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