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Friday, 14 September 2018 22:54

Trump administration's voter suppression attempts ahead of midterms are not only 'morally wrong,' they're illegal

Written by Tom Perez | CNBC
Trump administration's voter suppression attempts ahead of midterms are not only 'morally wrong,' they're illegal Photo credit: Michael Fleshman

Imagine going to the polls on Election Day and discovering that your ballot could be collected and reviewed by the sitting president of the United States. That's essentially what Donald Trump is trying to do to voters in North Carolina – and we can't let it happen.

At the end of August, just two months before voters head to the polls in the midterm elections, Trump's Justice Department issued sweeping subpoenas demanding millions of records about individual North Carolina voters.

After facing a fierce backlash over the fact that the request would impede the ability of election officials to do their jobs and conduct free and fair elections this November, the U.S. Attorney's office decided to postpone the deadline for their request to January.

But the fact remains: such a request, whether it happens in the run-up to an election, or shortly after one takes place, only serves to discourage Americans from exercising their constitutional rights, especially people of color. I would know, because as head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Obama, I spent much of my time suing states that tried to block eligible voters from the ballot box.

Now Donald Trump and Republicans are taking things in the other direction. Instead of investigating voter suppression like we did under President Obama, Trump's Justice Department is complicit in it.

This isn't just morally wrong – it's illegal. That's why I'm joining North Carolina Representatives G.K. Butterfield, David Price, Alma Adams, and other members from across the country in calling on the Inspectors General of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to immediately open an investigation into these actions to determine whether or not they were politically motivated.

"For decades, Republicans have used the dubious "voter fraud" excuse as a fig leaf to cover up their true intent: to deny people of color their constitutional rights at the ballot box."

But you don't need a law degree to understand that there's an ulterior motive here. Republicans know full-well that there is no such thing as "widespread voter fraud." In fact, you're more likely to be struck by lightning than witness a case of in-person voter fraud.

For decades, Republicans have used the dubious "voter fraud" excuse as a fig leaf to cover up their true intent: to deny people of color their constitutional rights at the ballot box. And many conservatives have been caught admitting as much.

In 1980, Paul Weyrich, a godfather of the modern conservative movement, told a conference of conservative evangelical activists, "I don't want everybody to vote. … Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

In 2012, the Pennsylvania state House Republican leader was caught on tape admitting that implementing a voter ID law was part of their strategy to help Mitt Romney win. No one is fooled. That's why many of these laws have already been struck down by federal courts, including a North Carolina voter ID law that, in the words of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, "target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision."

And yet, the Republican Party continues to push this "voter fraud" myth and use voter suppression tactics any chance they get. We all remember when President Trump repeatedly made the false claim that three million undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 election.

Despite no evidence of this, Trump used the claim as the basis for a sham "voter fraud" commission, which has since been disbanded. And just this summer, the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gave Ohio the green light to purge millions of voters from its rolls.

Now Trump's Justice Department is picking up where the president's sham commission left off. And it's no surprise that they're setting their sights on North Carolina.

When it comes to voter suppression, North Carolina is the epicenter. Republicans in North Carolina have resorted to every trick in the book to prevent people from voting: racial gerrymandering, partisan gerrymandering, voter purging, reducing early voting days, moving the names of Democrats down the ballot, and now this latest form of voter intimidation.

Of course, this is not a recent phenomenon. Any honest history of the Jim Crow South shows that North Carolina is no stranger to voting laws steeped in racism – from poll taxes to literacy tests.

We've made too much progress as a nation to turn back now. Make no mistake: Republicans will take what they can get away with in North Carolina, and try it again and again in state after state in the hopes that voter fatigue and misinformation will keep people home on Election Day.

The right to vote is sacrosanct. Protecting that right for all Americans should be a prime concern for every lawmaker in the country. Sadly, we live in a political climate where elected leaders in one political party believe that they should be allowed to choose their voters instead of the other way around.

Democrats believe that our democracy works best when more people participate, not fewer. We believe in a federal Department of Justice that fights for the rights of the American people, not against them. And whether it's in North Carolina, Ohio, or Washington, we will hold Republican leaders accountable.

Commentary by Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He previously served as secretary of labor and as the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Obama.

Link to original article from CNBC

Read 3231 times Last modified on Friday, 14 September 2018 23:16

Meet the Hosts

Rev. Rodney Sadler

Dr. Sadler's work in the community includes terms as a board member of the N.C. Council of Churches, Siegel Avenue Partners, and Mecklenburg Ministries, and currently he serves on the boards of Union Presbyterian Seminary, Loaves and Fishes, the Hispanic Summer Program, and the Charlotte Chapter of the NAACP. His activism includes work with the Community for Creative Non-Violence in D.C., Durham C.A.N., H.E.L.P. Charlotte, and he has worked organizing clergy with and developing theological resources for the Forward Together/Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina. Rev. Sadler is the managing editor of the African American Devotional Bible, associate editor of the Africana Bible, and the author of Can a Cushite Change His Skin? An Examination of Race, Ethnicity, and Othering in the Hebrew Bible. He has published articles in Interpretation, Ex Audito, Christian Century, the Criswell Theological Review, and the Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and has essays and entries in True to Our Native Land, the New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, the Westminster Dictionary of Church History, Light against Darkness, and several other publications. Among his research interests are the intersection of race and Scripture, the impact of our images of Jesus for the perpetuation of racial thought in America, the development of African American biblical interpretation in slave narratives, the enactment of justice in society based on biblical imperatives, and the intersection of religion and politics.

Rev. Rodney Sadler

Co - Chair - People Demanding Action
North Carolina Forward Together/Moral Monday Movem
Radio Host: Politics of Faith - Wednesday @ 11 am

People Power with Ernie Powell

Ernie Powell has been involved in public policy, progressive campaigns and grassroots efforts since the mid 1960's. He worked as a boycott organizer with the United Farm Workers from 1968 until 1973. He then became a community organizer in Santa Monica, California involved in affordable housing advocacy while working with others in laying the foundation for one of the most progressive local rent control measures in the country. He organized on behalf of environmental and coastal access and preservation issues in California as well. Beginning in 1993 he served as Advocacy Representative and later as Manager of Advocacy for AARP in California working on national and state issues. He left AARP in 2012 to work as Field Director for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in Washington D.C. In late 2013 he returned to California and started a consulting business. He is a consultant with Social Security Works and is organizing groups nationally to fight for the protection and expansion of Social Security. He also consults with the California Long Term Care Ombudsman Association on issue impacting nursing home reform. He is a frequent author for Zocalo Public Square having just authored a piece on Social Security's 80th Birthday about the early impact of the Townsend Plan in building toward the passage of Social Security. Ernie has hosted two radio shows - the "Grassroots Corner" on "We Act Radio" in Washington D.C.and "the Campaign with Ernie Powell" at Radio Titans in Los Angeles. His focus for over 25 years has been on public policy issues impacting older Americans. He is a nationally recognized expert on grassroots organizing and campaigns. He is 66 years old and resides in Los Angeles, Ca.

Ernie Powell

Radio Host
Social Security Works
Los Angeles

Radio Host - Agitator Radio

Robert Dawkins is the founder of SAFE Coalition, North Carolina located in Charlotte, North Carolina. SAFE Coalition NC is a grassroots community coalition working to build public trust and accountability in NC law enforcement. We believe that critical dialogue, citizen oversight and legislative action are required to design a safe, accountable, fair and equitable system of criminal justice in our state.

Robert Dawkins

Founder
Safe Coalition, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina

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