Congressional Black Caucus Alarmed By States’ Voter Suppression Efforts

Black lawmakers are asking the Justice Department to launch an investigation.

Posted: 07/13/2011 04:46 PM EDT
Emanuel Cleaver

As more and more state legislatures have been unveiling new redistricting maps that dilute minority voting power and introduce or implement measures that would make it more difficult for certain groups to vote, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have grown increasingly concerned about what they believe has become an alarming trend. Now they’re declaring a state of emergency.

 

CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) has sent an SOS to the Department of Justice requesting a meeting as soon as possible with the head of the agency’s Civil Rights Division in lieu of Attorney General Eric Holder, who is traveling overseas.

 

“Each week members are sharing at our weekly meeting what’s happening in their states, and the picture is ugly,” he said. “We desperately need to have some DOJ involvement or we risk ending up in 16 months with fewer African-American seats.”

 

The group also held a press conference Wednesday morning to call attention to the matter.

 

Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said that her state has one of the “most draconian voter suppression bills” in the country, one that was made “by design to keep the people who most need to vote from voting.” Rep. Corrine Brown said that Florida has taken “a giant step backward” by attempting to shorten the early voting period and rolling back other measures that make voting easier or more convenient for constituents.

 

Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia lamented that no television networks and only a few print reporters turned up to cover the press conference.

 

“I guess everybody’s out covering the story about some nude pictures on the Internet or Facebook or Casey Anthony’s case, when we’re talking here about a very fundamental right that is in jeopardy,” he said.

 

(Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

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