It’s All About the Votes

Posted by Miriam Axel-Lute on October 24, 2012

With the news talking about close races in swing states, and voter intimidation in full swing, the importance of voter registration, voting rights, and getting out the vote could not be any clearer.

Two articles in our recent issue of Shelterforce explore this terrain.

Biko Baker of the League of Young Voters talks about the work of "Picking Up ACORN's Pieces":

“The surge in youth voting over the last several presidential cycles has been overwhelmingly driven by young voters of color,” 

says the University of Chicago’s Cathy Cohen, whose recent text, Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics, highlights a growing trend that black youth see themselves as reluctant, but consistent stakeholders in the civic process. “But when the media talks about the youth vote, it rarely mentions that young people of color are the most politically active segment of the Millennial generation.”

Not surprisingly, this is the same demographic hit hardest by the changes in election law. Young people of color are more likely to be registered by a third party operation and they are also more likely to not possess the proper ID needed to vote. So when groups like ACORN disappear, access to the civic process also disappears."

 

And Avi Green and Gabrielle Tarini of MassVotes, in "Get Back the Vote," lay out the myth of voter fraud and what needs to be done about it, listing the characteristics of successful voter registration efforts and campaigns, and calling on nonprofits of all kinds to step up and do their part.

For an up-to-date look at the state of voter suppression and the effects of voter ID laws, like the ones recently blocked in Pennslyvania and Texas, see Brentin Mock's recent article for In These Times:

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the lead sponsor of the bill and a member of the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council—the force behind many such state laws saw the judge’s decision as “skewed in favor of the lazy who refuse to exercise the necessary work ethic to meet the commonsense requirements to obtain an acceptable photo ID.”

Metcalfe believes people didn’t want to comply with the law because they’re shiftless. That theory flies in the face of the evidence civil rights lawyers produced in the voter ID hearings: more than 50 cases of people who tried to get an ID to vote, but through no fault of their own—lack of birth certificate, discrepancies in the state’s voter registration records—weren’t able to.

Work for a nonprofit and looking for a way to pitch in? Head over to Nonprofit Vote for tools to help you engage your staff, board, members, and clients.

About the author more »

Miriam Axel-Lute is editor of Shelterforce and associate director of the National Housing Institute. Her email is miriam at nhi dot org.

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