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The War on Voting: The Southern Strategy

With the spotlight on Southern states during both of the political conventions, a look at voter suppression efforts in that region is revealing. Diversity is broadening daily in Southern states—while the Republican-led war on voting rages there, perhaps harder than in any other region.

In "Voter Suppression: the Confederacy Rises Again," blogger Ari Berman, with The Nation magazine, lays out the details.

For example, North Carolina has gained 1.5 million new residents during the past 10 years. Sixty-one percent of them are people of color. The black and Hispanic share of voters there has increased by 2.5 percent, while the white vote has dropped by a similar margin.

North Carolina is one of only three Southern states that have not passed restrictive voting laws since 2010—but it hasn’t been for lack of trying. North Carolina Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue has twice vetoed strict voter I.D. laws, but it’s almost certain those laws will be enacted if the GOP gubernatorial candidate wins in November.

The Southern situation, and the entire voter suppression effort, is reminiscent of historical periods many of us hoped were safely behind us for good, according to Kareem Crayton, professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“After Reconstruction, we saw efforts by conservative whites in Southern state legislatures to cut back on opportunities for black Americans to cast a ballot,” says Crayton. “It’s hard to dismiss the theory that what we’re seeing today is a replay of that scenario.”  

Here's the section of the Democratic platform that addresses voting rights:

Voting Rights. We believe the right to vote and to have your vote counted is an essential American freedom, and we oppose laws that place unnecessary restrictions on those seeking to exercise that freedom. Democrats have a proud history of standing up for the right to vote. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department has initiated careful, thorough, and independent reviews of proposed voting changes, and it has prevented states from implementing voter identification laws that would be harmful to minority voters. Democrats know that voter identification laws can disproportionately burden young voters, people of color, low-income families, people with disabilities and the elderly, and we refuse to allow the use of political pretexts to disenfranchise America's citizens. 

The AFL-CIO My Vote, My Right website offers hands-on information on voter registration, voter ID laws and steps to take to protect your right to vote on Election Day. Find out what you need to know to make sure your vote counts this year. Get information on voter registrationyour voting rights by state and more at the AFL-CIO’s MyVoteMyRight.org.

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