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Paving the Way By Sherry Cannon

According to an August 2016 Rolling Stone Magazine article, by journalist Greg Palast, over 20 Republican controlled states are using a database system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program to disenfranchise voters under the guise of stopping voter fraud. 

The Crosscheck System is being purported as a means to tag people, who are on voter registries in multiple states by matching identical names along with the last 4 digits of their social security numbers.

Rolling Stone obtained lists of one million people identified by Crosscheck as being possible duplicate voters from, Georgia, Virginia and Washington.

After Rolling Stone performed their own analysis on those lists, they found that 1/4th of the names had no middle names identified. The analysis also showed that Crosscheck disproportionately threatened solid Democratic constituencies’ i.e. young people, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian- Americans, and people with ethnic defined names like Washington, Garcia and Lee. None of the names on the lists had social security numbers matched to them.

Once a person is identified as having duplicate registrations, a postcard is sent stating that the voter must verify his or her address and mail the postcard back to their Secretary of State. The postcard is not sent by certified mail and there is no guarantee an individual ever received it.

Failure to return the postcard, begins the process of having your name removed from the voter rolls.  To date 7.2 million have been flagged by this system for possible voter fraud.

The Crosscheck system is the brainchild of Kris Kobach, Secretary State of Kansas. This is the same guy that serves as Donald Trump’s immigrations advisor, and rumored to have given Trump the border wall idea.

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas’ Voter ID Law was written to intentionally discriminate against minorities.

This ruling comes two years after the same judge likened Texas’ voter ID laws to a “poll tax,” saying African-Americans were 1.78 times more likely than whites, and Latinos 2.42 times more likely, to lack the specific forms of identification the law required to vote.

All these changes come on the heels of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, a remaining provision of the VRA allows for states that engage in intentional voting discrimination to be brought back under federal supervision to protect voters.

Getting this provision enforced will be a challenge with Jeff Sessions as the US Attorney General. Sessions decided, just one day before the February 28th court hearing, that the Dept. of Justice would abandon the claim that Voter ID Laws were intentionally discriminatory. This court case was brought by the Obama Administration’s Justice Department.

African-American men fought in every war this country ever engaged in. After each war ended they came back to the same racist society, unable to vote, unable to gain decent employment, living in segregated and sub-standard housing, with their children attending segregated and sub-standard schools.

We find ourselves fighting the same battles that our fore-parents fought and thought they had eradicated fifty years ago. Our neighborhoods and schools once again are segregated, not so much by the laws on the books, but by economic disparities.

The fight this time is a battle for the soul of this country. Today anything considered “other” is marginalized, be it color, class, religion, or sexual orientation, by many people in this country.

The idea that in the next 10-15 years, brown and black people will be the majority is quite unsettling for the people, who have always, had privileged status.

This last election cycle showed that the idea of the first female president following the first black president was equally unsettling for these same folks. 

This is a society that has been white male dominant, and there is little interest in changing that status quo, any more than there being interest in making African-Americans full citizens in this country.

I believe it is going to take the same resolve that it took for Harriet Tubman against all odds to decide that she would rather be dead seeking freedom, than to live out her life a slave.

The same resolve it took Booker T. Washington, also born into slavery, who taught his self to read at the age of nine and later walked 500 miles to Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia, where he convinced the administrators to allow him to attend the school.

The same resolve of Fannie Lou Hamer, who co-founded the Mississippi Democratic Party; and in 1964 spoke before the credentials committee of the Democratic National Convention regarding the inability to register as a Black person in Mississippi.

She told that committee, “All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m tired of being sick and tired.” Fannie Lou became the first African-American to be seated as an official delegate at a national party convention since Reconstruction.

It’s going to take that same resolve black men and women through-out history have had; to fight against all odds, to be first on their job, first to go to an integrated school, or first in their family to go to college.

This is what we’ve always done, paved the way for those that come behind us. Can we in this generation do any less than those that came before us? Come on Peoria Stay Woke!