700,000 To 1 Million Minority Voters Under 30 May Be Unable To Vote Because Of Voter I.D. Laws | Roland Martin Reports

700,000 To 1 Million Minority Voters Under 30 May Be Unable To Vote Because Of Voter I.D. Laws

Getting the right to vote was a hundred-year-long struggle that saw beatings, violence and even deaths; and that fight for the right to vote isn’t over. Half a century ago, Blacks were prevented from voting by a variety of intimidating tactics, including literacy tests; poll taxes; dogs; police batons; and violence from angry, White citizens. Today, the tactics are not as overt and they involve lawyers, rich donors, the cutting of early voting hours, voter I.D.s and other methods to suppress the vote.

A new study out this month from researchers at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis projected that nearly 700,000 to 1 million minority voters under the age of 30 may be unable to cast a ballot in November because of photo I.D. laws in certain states.

MR. MARTIN:  Welcome to “Washington Watch.”

We’re here this week at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 42nd Annual Legislative Conference.

And the reason there’s a CBC at all is because we fought and won the right to vote.  Now, getting that right to vote was a hundred-year-long struggle that saw beatings, violence and even deaths; and that fight for the right to vote isn’t over.  Half a century ago, Blacks were prevented from voting by a variety of intimidating tactics, including literacy tests; poll taxes; dogs; police batons; and violence from angry, White citizens.  Today, the tactics are not as overt and they involve lawyers, rich donors, the cutting of early voting hours, voter I.D.s and other methods to suppress the vote.

A new study out this month from researchers at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis projected that nearly 700,000 to 1 million minority voters under the age of 30 may be unable to cast a ballot in November because of photo I.D. laws in certain states.

We’re here today at the “Emerging Leaders Town Hall:  The Evolution of Politics and Empowerment,” and we’re going to find out what some folks are doing to protect our vote and how you can get involved.  Joining me are:  Leigh Owens, politics editor for “The Huffington Post”; co-director of the Advancement Project Judith Browne-Dianis; IMPACT co-founder and director and executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Angela Rye; and Brandon Davis, national political director of the Service Employees International Union.

Folks, welcome to the show.

PANEL:  Thank you.

[APPLAUSE.]

MR. MARTIN:  All right, panel.  Before I ask you a question, here’s what a state rep. in Pennsyl- — in Pennsylvania had to say.  The latest outrage, if you will – voter I.D. Remember before, they had the leader there who said Mitt Romney’s going to win Pennsylvania because of voter I.D.?  Check out what this guy, Rep. Metcalfe, had to say.

[BEGIN AUDIO.]

PENNSYLVANIA REP. DARYL METCALFE:  As – as Mitt Romney said – I mean what?  We have 40-some percent of the people that are living off the – the public dole, living off of their neighbors’ hard work.  And we have a lotta people out there.  They’re too lazy to get off and what they – you know, to get up and get out there and – and – and get the I.D. they need.  So, I mean if individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that.

[END OF AUDIO.]

MR. MARTIN:  Now, he said they’re “lazy.”

In Pennsylvania, first of all, the courts this week sent it back down to the lower courts to say – [unintelligible] – the impact.  What’s interesting is Pennsylvania folks said they are – they pursued voter I.D. because of voter fraud.  Yet, when they went to court, they actually told the court they have no evidence of voter fraud.  They have no studies showing it, and even if they got I.D.s, it would not impact voter fraud.  Basically, their argument really has been a fraudulent one.

OFF CAMERA:  Right.

MS. JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS:  So, Advancement Project – we’re counsel in that case in Pennsylvania, and there was no evidence of voter fraud, but there is evidence of voter suppression. That evidence is Turzai, who said it’s for Mitt Romney.  That evidence is that the state actually has no clue of how to get I.D.s in the hands of the people that don’t have it.

And we have to – you know, let’s put this in the larger context.  What has happened in terms of voter suppression is because we turned out in record numbers in 2008.  Young people turned out in record numbers in 2008.  Latinos turned out in record numbers.

MR. MARTIN:  Two million more African-Americans voted in 2008 –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — compared to 2004.  Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group in America –

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — in 2008.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  Right.  And when you look at Pennsylvania, it really is a good story about this because, in fact, their – the state says 760,000 people that are registered voters don’t have the I.D.  We know it’s more than that, but the margin of victory for Obama in 2008 was 660.  So, you have 43 percent of people in Philly don’t have voter I.D. to vote.

And so we know what this is about.  This is politicians trying to manipulate the law so that they can win.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, obviously, where we are, waiting for the final ruling in Pennsylvania.  They kicked back the Texas law, said it – it was simply a violation, but – all right.  Some places, you do have voter I.D.s, and so what are organizations doing to say, “Look.  Here’s what the law is in some places”?  The – the – let the lawyers fight in other places.  What’s happening on the ground to make it possible to say, “Look, you still need to be able to register to vote”?

MS. ANGELA RYE:  Well, this coming Tuesday, September 25th, is National Voter Registration Day.  There are organizations all over the country, including IMPACT, who are joining together to make sure that folks are equipped not only with their voter registration, if they’ve been purged from the rolls, to make sure they’re re-registered and also have the requisite I.D.  At the end of the day, no, we shouldn’t give up the fight.  It is in litigation, but we need to be prepared.  We need to prepare our communities.

In addition to that, the Congressional Black Caucus members are going to be at their boards of election on Tuesday, getting folks from the community to come register to vote.  We also have a website for those that are electronically inclined, and that’s getvoteready.org.

MR. BRANDON DAVIS:  Yeah, at – at – we’ve got a similar situation at SEIU.  Our 2.1 million members made it very clear that we’ve got to figure out how to deal with this, both in the immediate, which we’re doing on the ground every day.  We’re communicating with voters.  We’ve talked to over a million voters this year – our members – [knocking] on doors every day.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  Very quickly, Advancement Project – we also have been doing – we’ve been doing calls with radio deejays – personalities –  deejays from clubs, barbershops, et cetera, because we need to make sure that they have the accurate information that they need to give to the people that they have credibility with in the community.  And so we keep doing these educational –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  — pieces so that folks are ready to talk to people about voting.

MR. MARTIN:  Have you been seeing, in terms of your reporting, grassroots folks saying, “Look,” you know, “we have to push, push, push and get people to know what papers you need” – things along those lines as well?

MR. LEIGH OWENS:  Absolutely.  And I think a lot of what I’ve been seeing, you know, is that last-minute push to make sure everyone is prepared in November to cast that vote because, you know, obviously, we know what it is.  It’s – it’s voter suppression at its – at its best.

MR. MARTIN:  And the o- –

MR. OWENS:  So –

MR. MARTIN:  — and the other point that I’ve been also making is – on the show, on radio and other places – is understand that your state is different than some other state.

OFF CAMERA:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  You have to know what you need in – in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Florida, in Texas, in Illinois – because it’s different than other states.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  Right.  I –

MS. RYE:  I think, to that end, what we’ve also been doing – and Judy – Judy’s group has also joined in with the Advancement Project.  Every, single Tuesday from a few weeks ago until November 6, we’re doing “Super Tuesday” Twitter town halls.  We tweet those facts – state-specific – on what you need to bring to the polls, on your secretary of state’s website, exactly the kind of information that you need.  There are several websites out there that give you, and equip you with, the right tools.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  — and it’s important for people to understand that, while there was an effort to pass these voter I.D. restriction laws in 33 states, there are only three, new states that are requiring the I.- — the really restrictive I.D., which is Tennessee, Kansas and then Pennsylvania, which has a question mark ’cause we’ll be back in –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. BROWNE-DIANIS:  — court on Tuesday.

MR. MARTIN:  All right, folks.  Hold tight one second.

When we come back, we will take a look at – take a few questions from the audience, but first, here are the states where voter registration deadlines are coming up.  I want you to write this down.  I want you to tweet it, put it on Facebook.

On October 6th, that is the deadline for South Carolina, for Arkansas, for Mississippi, for Tennessee and for Rhode Island.  Do not wait.  Don’t procrastinate.  You have to act now.  And remember don’t just focused on – if you’re living in a red state, you might say, “Well, Mitt Romney’s going to win that state.”  Remember when you go to vote there are state reps, state senators, city council folks, commissioners, judges, D.A.s.  There’re a number of people who are on the ballot.  You can’t ignore any of those races.