NAEJA Addresses Voter Suppression
By Dianne Anderson
Those who may have never dreamed of voting before are now going out of their way to find a local drop box, or heading down to the Registrar of Voters office to get their ballots deposited extra early, and safely.
Until the last minute voters can get help at www.iwillvote.com. The state of California website says Same-Day Voter Registration, known as Conditional Voter Registration, is a safety net for Californians who missed the October 19 deadline.
If they missed the last day to register to vote, no problem. No one should be turned away from access to a conditional or provisional ballot.
But with all that easy voting, Jonathan Taylor, spokesperson for the National Association of Equal Justice in America, cautions voters to pay attention to where they are dropping off their ballots.
Voter suppression tactics are still a thing to watch for, and it’s not just in the deep south.
The State of California and the Attorney General recently issued a cease and desist letter to the Republican Party to stop placing unofficial private collection ballot containers in several counties, including Orange County.
“The Republican party has taken it upon itself in California and Orange county to send out fake ballot collector bins. The Secretary of State and the AG have issued a Cease and Desist order from setting out these unofficial ballot collector bins,” Taylor said.
So far, the State of California website says that Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange County GOP parties have not fully responded to the Cease and Desist letter.
“That is why the Attorney General is issuing subpoenas to compel further information. Reports of unofficial drop boxes in counties in addition to Fresno, Los Angeles, and Orange, and the CRP’s refusal to answer basic questions around the location and amount of misleading ballot drop boxes is problematic. As a result, this investigation will remain on-going, and we will take further legal action as necessary,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a statement last week.
The state’s website says voters can protect themselves by using a prepaid postage return envelope and mailing in their ballot. Or, they can return it to an official secure ballot drop box, have a trusted friend or family member drop it off in person at the county elections office, or an actual polling location on or before Election Day.
Taylor said voter suppression tactics are familiar in the nation’s dark history, and surfacing in so many states this election.
“We have spent so much time blaming other countries and governments for tampering with votes. At the same time, we say nothing about different states [like] Texas,” he said.
In the past few days, a judge lifted an order there that only allowed one drop box per county, saying it put an undue burden on voters trying to vote during the pandemic. Still, it’s unclear how many drop boxes will be allowed in a state that has huge counties that can take hours to travel to a drop box.
Voting requirements are always changing, Taylor said, particularly for Black and Brown voters, such as not accepting state college identification as a government identification.
“We don’t lynch people so much anymore, but we lynch people with all of these requirements. It’s the same old net effect, just different methods,” said Taylor, a retired Los Angeles educator, and national NAEJA chair of the education committee.
How voters are excluded is another suppression tactic. In Florida, former felons were not allowed to vote until their fine or court fees were paid, something that should have been illegal. Former New York City Mayor and billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, stepped up to pay for 32,000 felons to be able to vote.
“It’s so automatic for them to be exclusive, exclude people. It’s where do you stop? I don’t know what it will take to have a genuine change of heart,” Taylor said.
On Saturday, October 31, NAEJA is hosting a webinar on civil rights, hate crimes, and addressing the Color of Law with a presentation by an FBI member. The event, which runs from 2-3:30 p.m. will cover how those issues impact the Black community.
Harden Walker, chair of Orange County NAEJA, said this coming year they hope to move forward to address racism and civil rights. In their last conference, they explored the new Jim Crow laws of the modern era, along with psychological and mental slavery.
Recently, the group has joined the United Nations Orange County membership with attention to human trafficking, racial justice and other international concerns.
Since the pandemic, Walker said their chapter has been on hold, but they are trying to regroup and jump-start events with an upcoming webinar. Salvador Tamburrino, a featured speaker and FBI specialist on hate crimes, will address the rise of hate crime, and erosion of civil rights among African Americans.
“They will also talk about what it means when the government declares martial law in a city or county,” he said. “We’re holding the webinar for the community to ask questions about how to get help, and learn how to file complaints that can be addressed.”
For any questions to participate in the webinar, contact firstname.lastname@example.org