By Cassandra Lans
Milwaukee County Supervisor Nikiya Q. Harris joined many community activists to express their feelings regarding the temporary injunction against the recently adopted Voter ID law that was issued by Dane County Judge David Flanagan. Harris spoke at a press conference held late Tuesday afternoon at St. Mark’s AME Church at 1616 W. Atkinson.
She stated, “My sincere thanks go to Judge David Flanagan for this decision today. I am excited and elated about this glimmer of hope for voters in Wisconsin. It’s wrong to make individuals jump through hurdles to exercise their constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote. Last year, I led the fight against the Voter ID bill and hosted a series of town hall meetings and information sessions to get the word out. We want to make sure that every voice is heard, and every vote counts.”
The Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, Voces de la Frontera and other individual plaintiffs, held the press conference at St. Mark’s AME Church for very specific reasons.
St. Mark’s was founded by Ezekiel Gillespie, the plaintiff in Gillespie v. Palmer, an 1866 Wisconsin Supreme Court case which first established the right to vote for African Americans in Wisconsin.
The reaction to this decision spread fast. Mayor Tom Barrett released a statement saying; “As Judge Flanagan states in his opinion: ‘The right to vote is a fundamental, defining element of our society. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has described it as a “sacred right.”’
Barrett added, “I’m pleased with Judge Flanagan’s decision. Wisconsin has one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation. Placing deterrents and creating roadblocks on a citizen’s right to vote warrants the court’s serious review.”
As word also spread that the Republicans were getting ready to file an appeal, the mayor also stated that people should still seek their photo ID’s until a final ruling is made.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore reacted to the news as well; “I am extremely pleased with the court’s decision today to grant a temporary injunction against the Wisconsin voter ID law. This law does nothing but attempt return us to an era of Jim Crow politics. Requiring strict photo ID at the polls is nothing more than a modern day poll tax.
This law is a direct and blatant attack on the same citizens who have struggled throughout our nation’s history for the right to vote. Requiring a strict photo ID card at the polls disenfranchises minorities, low-income folks, the elderly, students, and other vulnerable populations. Obtaining the documentation needed to get an ID, like a birth certificate, costs money and time. Taking time off from work to travel and wait in line for hours at the DMV is not something that many disadvantaged Americans can afford to do.
When I took my oath as a Member of Congress to uphold and defend the United States Constitution, I took it very seriously. Our right to vote is one of the most protected rights of any that we enjoy in our democratic system. In fact, the Constitution was amended five times over our nation’s history to reflect this American ideal.
In a Democracy, your vote is your voice and it must not be silenced. I will continue to fight to make voting an equal opportunity regardless of race, status, and age.”
Rep. Gwen Moore has been a leader on the issue of voter protection. She along with Keith Ellison (D-MN), have introduced H.R. 3316, the Voter Access Protection Act, to make it a federal law to protect the voting rights of those Americans who lack photo ID in federal elections.
For now, this means that a photo ID will not be required for the Spring April 3, elections here in Wisconsin. The appeal hearing will not take place until later in April.
Republicans are screaming foul because Judge Flanagan signed a recall petition against Walker, yet the attorney for the Voter ID complaint states that one has nothing to do with the other.
As Wisconsin still battles this fight other states are as well, this is a national issue, that Republicans have joined together to wage in efforts to make it more difficult for President Obama to get re-elected.
The National Urban League is calling on African Americans to get out and vote come election time as a means of countering state laws the group says threaten education and economic gains made by Blacks.
Borrowing from the Occupy Wall Street movement, the 101-year-old civil rights group made “Occupy the Vote” the theme for its annual State of Black America report to be released Wednesday at Howard University. The report evaluates AfricanAmericans progress toward equality, and this year’s version “Occupy the Vote to Employ, Educate & Empower” also measures white and Latino equality.
The campaign will include, among other things, a website dedicated to monitoring voter laws and providing information on voting requirements.
“The league also hopes to conduct get-out-the-vote bus tours,“ said CEO Marc Morial.
Black Americans have built a strong record at the voting booth – the 2008 turnout of 65.2 percent of Black eligible voters nearly matched the 66.1 percent turnout of White eligible voters. Although turnout and registration slipped in 2010, 1.1 million more Black Americans showed up to vote two years ago than in 2006, according to Pew Hispanic Center’s research.