Attacks on suffrage aren’t slowing down and black Americans are in the crosshairs, new report says


By Maya Brown, CNN

(CNN) — Attacks by some Republicans and far-right groups on voting rights and American democracy are making it harder for black people to achieve racial equality, according to a new report from the National Urban League.

The civil rights organization released its annual report on the state of black America, titled “Under Siege: The Plot to Destroy Democracy,” on Tuesday. Among other things, the results showed the social and economic status of black Americans; how African Americans felt about social justice issues; and revealed the various tactics that make it harder for black people to vote.

Citing record numbers of voters from communities of color using mail-in ballots and early voting, the authors say partisan politicians in state legislatures across the country have drafted bills and passed laws making it harder to vote. black Americans vote and they see no sign of the effort slowing down.

“The historic voter turnout in the 2020 election has sparked one of the most insidious partisan attacks on suffrage in American history,” the report’s authors write.

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, told CNN that without the right to vote for black people, racial equity cannot be achieved.

“If we don’t have the right to vote for leaders who share the concerns of our community, we don’t have a voice,” he said. “We have no say and American democracy is undermined. We will fight to protect American democracy and the right to vote until all hell freezes over. »

Prior to 2020, mail-in voting was neither controversial nor subject to legislative attack, according to the report.

“Republicans embraced mail-in voting without an excuse in Georgia in 2005.” And as recently as 2019, large bipartisan majorities expanded access to mail-in voting in Pennsylvania. But “after 2020, the first year that nonwhite voters began to rely on mail-in voting in large numbers, mail-in voting has become the subject of intense scrutiny and politicized across America,” they said. writes the authors.

In Georgia, for example, nearly 30% of black voters voted by mail, compared to 24% of white voters – a reversal of past behaviors. More than 1.3 million Georgians voted absent.

In 2021, 19 states passed 34 laws making it harder for black people to vote by making it harder to vote by mail, imposing strict signature requirements and reducing the availability of polling places, according to the report. The report also reveals that this year, 18 states have already postponed at least 152 restrictive bills from the previous legislative session.

Fighting the assault on the right to vote should be the number one priority for black Americans to ensure that the challenges and disparities that black Americans face are addressed comprehensively, Morial told CNN.

The National Urban League worked with Benenson Strategy Group and conducted approximately 1,674 online interviews in early March with people living in the United States from the age of 18 to gain insight into the issues facing black Americans. .

The Urban League marked the report’s release with a special launch event on Tuesday that brought together the group’s leaders, members of Congress, civil rights activists, as well as the next generation of leaders.

The civil rights organization chose to hold an event at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta because it says Georgia is ground zero for voter suppression.

“Even with our rich heritage and our advances in civil rights, Georgia is currently ground zero in the fight to protect our democracy,” Nancy Flake Johnson, president and CEO of the Greater Urban League, said Tuesday. Atlanta. “We are tackling the task of re-educating voters about power, history, privilege and the urgency of when to vote.”

At the launch event, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens emphasized the importance of voting in the upcoming election.

“Our state was just one of 49 states where legislation was introduced in the last year that will restrict access to the ballot box,” Dickens said. “Remember that it is imperative that we remain politically engaged and active. This is how we will move our city forward. »

Other discoveries

The report also revealed that the main tactics that restrict the right to vote include gerrymandering, voter suppression, election sabotage and intimidation. The executive summary of the report says the overhaul of Congressional maps, extremely strict voter ID laws and efforts to discredit votes are attempts to silence black voices.

“I am extremely concerned that these efforts will have an impact,” Morial said. “That’s why we have to do everything in the courts, in the political arena, in the court of public opinion, to organize the efforts to counter it. We must counter it because it is so corrosive and so damaging to American democracy. »

Morial also said the National Urban League also encourages black voters to support candidates — both locally and nationally — who not only publicly state that they support the Freedom to Vote Act and the Advancement of John Lewis voting rights, but who are also opposed to the use of the filibuster bloc.

The annual report also calculates an Equality Index each year that reveals disparities between Black Americans and White Americans in economic opportunity, education, health, social justice and civic engagement.

The report’s authors also surveyed thousands of black and white people to gauge their views on issues of race and justice in America.

One of the main goals of the report is to help black Americans claim their right to vote in every election. The National Urban League plans to advise many black communities in the upcoming midterm elections to ensure record turnout later this year, Morial said.

They also plan to launch a civic engagement campaign called “Reclaim Your Vote” to ensure the integrity of future elections so that black Americans can be put on the path to racial equality.

“Frustration is not a strategy, and it leads to discouragement and defeat if we allow it to consume our thinking,” Morial said. “We have to push back even in the most difficult times that we have faced as people. The times demand that we be resolute.

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