Bigotry in Action: Voter ID Banner Depicts Racist Images

The banner supports arguments that new voter laws are all about race.

Posted: 03/02/2012 11:43 AM EST
voter ID, 2012 presidential election, voting rights, 2012 election, Voting Rights Act of 1965, NAACP

Minnesota Majority, an election watchdog group, must have missed the memo instructing supporters of stricter voting laws to not make it about race. A website it owns called WeWantVoterID.com was running a banner that depicted a white-sheeted “spook” which in the old days was what racists liked to call Negroes, a guy dressed up in a mariachi suit and an African-American male in black-and-white striped prison gear. Their alleged message is that requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls would make “it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” but what it really said is African-Americans and Latinos are lying, cheating frauds.

“Its’ very offensive and quite reckless and doesn’t take into consideration a lot of the problems [with voter ID laws]. It plays on stereotypes and too loose with an extremely important part of our Democratic society, and that is every American who’s eligible being able to cast an unfettered vote and have it counted,” said Hilary Shelton, head of the NAACP’s Washington bureau. “Instead they’re poking fun at those who are most likely to be disenfranchised in this process and belittling the realities that under this system with these new requirements people won’t be able to vote.”

The group must have gotten some heat because the banner now features a cast of characters that all appear to be white. Still, Shelton says, if Minnesota passes a voter ID law, approximately 25 percent of the state’s voting-age African-Americans could be disenfranchised.

In another effort to make it more difficult for individuals to vote in Minnesota, the Minnesota Voters Alliance and the Minnesota Freedom Council filed a federal lawsuit this week, arguing that election-day voter registration violates the state’s constitution.

Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network is leading a five-day march, starting March 4 in Selma, Alabama, to protest new state voting regulations that they say will disproportionately impact African-Americans, Latinos, low-income people, the elderly and students. The march will begin at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, where civil rights protesters were attacked by state troopers on a day in 1965 now remembered as Bloody Sunday, and end with a rally at a courthouse in Montgomery.

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(Photo: Courtesy NAACP)

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