With a triple play of reapportionment, redistricting and shady voter ID laws threatening to disenfranchise many minority voters in 2012, the Congressional Black Caucus is planning another tour of the nation: this time combating what they view as voter suppression efforts in numerous states. New Voter ID laws are popping up across the United States while others are still set for passage in the near future.
CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver confirmed to Politic365 that the tour is, indeed, in the works. Even House Members outside the CBC with constituents likely to be impacted by new Voter ID laws voiced enthusiastic support. “That’s a great idea,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) told Politic365 recently following a series of votes in the House.
“We want to make sure the issue is widely known,” explained Cleaver. “The most important thing is to expose the American public to the dangers of trying to intentionally or unintentionally pushing people away from the ballot box. Just as we were successful in obtaining a front row seat for urban joblessness during our tour this summer we think we can and will do the same thing regarding voter suppression.”
When asked if they would try to register people to vote during the tour Cleaver noted that “… there are going to be a number of other components to it.”
No word on who or what organization would be helping with that “component,” but all bets are on the usual partners for this type of effort, from the NAACP and the National Action Network to younger outfits like Rock the Vote, Hip Hop Caucus and Color of Change.
In the meantime, 34 states have already introduced legislation requiring new so-called voter ID laws. Five states – Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, have already passed them. Georgia and Indiana already have strict photo identification requirements in place. The CBC is not buying it – with Members in many of these states, the Caucus charges that GOP-controlled legislators are simply engaging in voter suppression and hyper-partisan plays.
As reported in Politic365 earlier this week, Caucus Members met with Attorney General Eric Holder for an hour and 45 minutes – the first such session with him in almost two years. But, it was tightly controlled to avoid the AG commenting or reacting in any way to pending cases regarding voter suppression issues. Members in both the CBC and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus expressed concern to Holder over the new voter ID laws.
In early October, New York University Law School’s Brennan Center released a report claiming that over 5 million voters could be effected by laws now on the books or ready for passage in time for the 2012 elections. Even though the CBC’s tour regarding voter suppression and education is in the very early stages, using the previous CBC Jobs For the People Tour from this summer as a model could garner a lot of attention onto the issue. We’ll see: voter ID laws are not as sexy and pressing an issue for many as unemployment is at the moment. But, it can be just as important when considering the long term ramifications.