FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23 January 2013
For More Information: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, President, 919-394-8137
Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700
Atty. Jamie Phillips, Public Policy Coordinator, 919-682-4700
Statement As Read By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II,
President of the North Carolina NAACP
NC General Assembly Press Room
16 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC
January 23, 2013
The 15th amendment of the US Constitution says: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Article 1 Section 2 of our state constitution says: All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
Section 3 Says: The people of this State have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof, and of altering or abolishing their Constitution and form of government whenever it may be necessary to their safety and happiness; but every such right shall be exercised in pursuance of law and consistently with the Constitution of the United States.
Section 5 Says: Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.
Section 10 Says: All elections shall be free.
Section 19 Says: No person shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.
We believe in order to fulfill this Constitutional mandate, our leaders must commit themselves to the following nonpartisan values: 1) Economic sustainability, addressing poverty, full employment, living wages, green economy disparate unemployment and labor rights, affordable housing, targeted empowerment zones, fair policies for immigrants, and fair tax reform; 2) educational equality - every child deserves a high quality, well-funded, constitutional, diverse public education - and access to Community Colleges and Universities; 3) healthcare for all and ensuring access to Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and providing environmental protection; 4) addressing the continuing inequalities in the criminal justice system for black, brown and poor white people; and 5) protecting, defending and expanding voting rights for all people.
We commit to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, who sincerely wants to push our state forward with these progressive policies. This is one of the reasons we are so concerned about the issue of Voter ID not only being at the top of the agenda of the new republican leadership but on the agenda at all.
An African American Lincoln Republican, James Walker Hood, an AME Zion preacher, said in 1868 "We must protect the right to put a ballot in the ballot box at all cost. We must resist any attempts to deny or suppress the right to vote."
North Carolina elections are working! North Carolina had the largest increase in voter turnout between 2004 and 2008. North Carolina was one of only six states where more people voted this year than in 2008 (200,000 more). Black registered voters turned out at a 70.2% rate, exceeding the rates of 68.6% for whites and 54.3% for Latinos in 2012.
We already have the best law signature attestation with a five year felony. And this was a compromise made by Republicans and Democrats. It was added in 2003 into NC General Statute 163-166.7(a) and 163-166.7(c)(10), stating in part, "if a precinct official states that the person is duly registered, the person shall sign the poll book, other voting record, or voter authorization document..."
It was part of a large bill passed in NC after the federal Help America Vote Act passed in Congress. In NC, this bill was HB-842 and was called "Help America Vote Act Compliance." This bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Mickey Michaux and Rep. Paul Stam - in 2003 they were co-chairs of the House Elections Committee and co-Speakers Jim Black and Richard Morgan. In order for the Republican Party to keep saying elections are fraudulent now is to indict your own success and suggest that you won the majority through illegal practices
We have real problems to face as a state-poverty, unemployment, educational equality, health care, fair tax reform, etc - that need real attention without wasting energy and re-fighting battles we already fought and won and settled during the civil rights movement. Instead of trying to restrict voting in the 150 year anniversary of the emancipation proclamation and 50 year anniversary of the march on Washington, we should as a people - Democrat and Republican- should be trying to protect and expand access to voting rights and NOT attempting to restrict and suppress them. This is why we must fight these efforts locally in our state and nationally with every tool available.
Our deep concern for all North Carolinians and Americans is that there should never be any rule that denies or abridges the right to vote to anyone black, white, elderly, young, student poor, etc. This is why, though they have the votes, whatever is passed must and will be examined under the microscope of the Constitution and its protections.
Interestingly the same party wanting to push this issue in whatever form refuses to support a national voter registration and voting standards, refuses to provide money for national computerization of voter files, and refuses to accept Help America Vote Act monies that would help local election boards--we in the NAACP support all of these because we do care about voting integrity.
Every time we hear the backroom conversation behind so called ID legislation, the issue is not voter integrity - but suppression of certain segments of the voting population in order to guarantee certain victories that might not be attainable with a broad and deep electorate. Conservatives found out in 2008 they couldn't be guaranteed wins even in the south in North Carolina with a broad electorate and since then we have seen the greatest attack on voting rights since the 19th century
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday that the Republican party is suffering from a "dark vein of intolerance" and that some in the party seem to "look down on minorities." And he listed voter suppression efforts as evidence of this.
Many of you are seeking reform throughout government. Must this reform include appointing divisive figures who seem to represent narrow interests of a far right wing of the Republican Party? Do you think it is wise to "reform" the fundamental right to cast a ballot with obstacles that are as difficult for some to pass as the racist poll tax and literacy tests?
We believe voter identification laws are a form of voter suppression. It will do irreparable damage to the fundamental rights to participate in our democracy for thousands of North Carolinians. It is an insult to those valiant martyrs--black, white, brown and red--who struggled and died so the sons and daughters of those who were designated as 3/5ths of a person could forever vote and be full-fledged citizens of our democracy.
National propaganda efforts by the far-right to justify the obvious tactic to suppress the votes of minorities, youth, disabled, and the elderly, have proven to be fraudulent. There is no epidemic of people posing as someone else to vote. When they do, there are strong laws already on the books to catch and prosecute them. An honest review of what the far-right has cleverly called 'voter fraud' shows it is an overstatement to call it minuscule. To those of us who march in our ancestors shoes, to bring the power of voting and democratic participation to the shanties in the backwoods, and the tenements in the cities, to the elderly and the young people, just learning about democracy, we view this new voter suppression tactic as a poll tax dressed up in new clothes, designed to improve the chances of far-right interests to win over the interests of the whole.
We call on you as our leaders to resist those who would push you and your policies in this direction because it would shine a very bad light on North Carolina throughout the nation.
Our seven-year old Black-White-Brown People's Coalition have come here with grassroots leaders from the NAACP and HKonJ Coalition Partners and labor and faith allies to remind the Governor and the legislators that they did not swear to be Democrats or Republicans, but to uphold the constitution and do what is best for the good of the whole
Visit Protect Our Vote NC for additional information on
voter suppression efforts in North Carolina.