Race and Democracy

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle.
~ Frederick Douglass
I swear to the Lord I still can't see Why Democracy means Everybody but me .... I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath - America will be!
~ Langston Hughes The history of the United States is a history of race relations. Racism is the lubricant for an economic machine geared towards profit, and it is the poison that sickens American progress. Democracy has always been the subversive antidote to racial injustice. Read here for resources on race and democracy.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

January 26, 2009

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples

 

Adopted by General Assembly Resolution 61/295 on 13 September 2007     

Video from the Local Democracy Convention

December 1, 2006

Want to know more about participatory budgeting? Taking on City Hall? Home rule? Rebuilding New Orleans? Municipal foreign policy? Ballot initiatives?

Interested in local democracy?

This footage from the 2006 Local Democracy Convention is for you! Short video clips are available for viewing on YouTube, and full length, edited DVDs documenting the major panels, keynote talk, and some workshops are available for order from Liberty Tree.

To order a DVD, please send a check for $10 (postage included) to Liberty Tree, P.O. Box 260217, Madison, Wisconsin 53726-0217.

Check out the following 3-8 minute video clips online:

Keynoter: Gar Alperovitz 05:57

Additional Information: 

Thank you to On the Earth Productions (Karen Chin, Todd Price, Ginger Price, Sarah Grace Turner), Brazen Video (Luciano), and WYOU Community Cable (Eric Allin) for their filming and editing help.

The Local Democracy Convention took place September 27-October 1, 2006, in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information on the convention, see http://www.LocalDemocracy.org

For more information on Liberty Tree's Local Democracy Program, click here.

SALON: Provisional ballots still being counted in Arizona and reports of suppressed Latino votes could affect outcome of close races

November 17, 2012
Alex Seitz-Wald
news photo

 

The election may have ended almost two weeks ago, but in Arizona, it goes on. Perhaps it’s fitting for a state with its own time zone, but as of last night, there remained over 100,000 uncounted votes in the state’s two largest counties, leaving election officials unable to officially certify the results of a number of the state’s high profile races, including the Senate race, several House contests, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reelection bid. Friday was the deadline for counties to finish counting ballots, but the state blew past it yesterday when Maricopa, which contains Phoenix, and Pima County, which contains Tucson, said they needed more time.

ALTERNET: Latino organizers call attention to thousands of uncounted votes in Arizona county sheriff's race

November 8, 2012
Steve Rosenfeld
news photo

Did Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio—the face of Arizona’s anti-immigrant movement—really win a sixth term of office on Tuesday?

That is one question that Latino organizers are asking Wednesday after receiving reports that perhaps as many as 300,000 ballots remain uncounted in Maricopa County, with what they say are a sizeable proportion coming from non-white voters who unexpectedly were given provisional ballots after their names were not on polling place voter lists.

Democracy Now talks to civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis about the ongoing struggle for voting rights

October 19, 2012

Originally published on July 10, 2012

Democracy Now and Rep. John Lewis discuss the movemement to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and his experiences as a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Lewis reflects on the restrictive voting laws that target people of color. "It is so important for people to understand, to know that people suffered, struggled," Lewis says. "Some people bled, and some died, for the right to participate. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool that we have in a democratic society. It’s precious. It’s almost sacred. We have to use it. If not, we will lose it."

COLORLINES: Black citizens confused if Florida has restored their voting rights after felony convictions

October 18, 2012
Brentin Mock
news photo

Originally published on September 27, 2012

Despite the heat and threat of thunderstorms, about 500 African-Americans are gathered in Rowlett Park for an end-of-summer day of barbecuing, dancing and playing cards. It’s the fifth annual Old School Picnic, a community park jam that brings together two black neighborhoods that were torn apart when the College Hill and Ponce de Leon public housing projects were razed in 2000. Earlier that morning, President Barack Obama held a massive campaign rally in nearby St. Petersburg, trying to turn out every last vote in this key swing state. The week before, Republicans had made their big bid for Florida at their national convention.

NATION: Election Protection coalition helps voters navigate voter suppression laws

October 17, 2012
Ari Berman
news photo

On Wednesday, October 10, eight lawyers from five different law firms in northern Virginia assembled in a DLA Piper conference room here for voter protection training from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. It was the first of fifteen training sessions before election day in this crucial battleground state.

The Election Protection coalition plans to recruit 10,000 volunteers to assist at the polls during early voting and on election day in twenty states, particularly in high-turnout minority voting areas and historically disenfranchised communities. It will staff thirty-two call centers in English and Spanish through its 866-Our-Vote hotline. This conference room will be one of them.

AMERICAN PROSPECT: True the Vote trains poll watchers to intimidate voters

October 10, 2012
Abby Rapoport
news photo

Two years ago, the week before Election Day, I drove to Harris County, Texas. More specifically, I drove to the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, a polling location for early voting in one of Houston’s poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. After alleging that Harris County had a widespread problem with voter fraud, a Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots had launched a project called True the Vote, which had trained hundreds of volunteer poll watchers. As the early-voting period began, reports had begun to trickle out about white poll watchers arriving at minority precincts and intimidating voters. In Texas, poll watchers, appointed by a political party to watch the proceedings, aren’t allowed to do much; they’re barred from communicating with voters.

NATION: Voting Rights Act protects South Carolina and Mississippi citizens that voter ID laws would disenfranchise

October 10, 2012
Brentin Mock
news photo

Today, a federal court blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law for the 2012 elections, though it will be allowed to commence in 2013. According to the judges’ ruling, it is too close to the November election for effective implementation of South Carolina’s Act R54, which required voters to show a driver’s license, state-issued photo ID, passport, federal military photo ID or a photo voter registration card to vote. Before this law was passed, voters could show their voter registration card without a photo. The ruling states:

COLORLINES: Nevada Disenfranchises Its Poor Citizens

October 9, 2012
Aura Bogado
news photo

As we noted on Thursday, the issue of poverty was conspicuously missing from the first presidential candidates’ debate. While the term “middle class” was traded more than thirty times between Obama and Romney, neither candidate made any substantive claims about poverty. In a debate dominated by the topic of the economy, Obama couldn’t bring himself to say the words “poor” or “poverty” one time. Middle class, meanwhile, remains the term that is supposed to blanket everyone living in the US—despite their income or wealth.

LA TIMES: Judges temporarily block state voter ID laws for 2012 elections

October 8, 2012
David G. Savage
news photo

WASHINGTON — Earlier this year, voting rights advocates foresaw a cloud over this year's election because new voting laws in Republican-led states tightened the rules for casting ballots and reduced the time for early voting.

But with the election less than a month away, it's now clear those laws will have little impact. A series of rulings has blocked or weakened the laws as judges — both Republicans and Democrats — stopped measures that threatened to bar legally registered voters from polling places in the November election.

"Courts see their role as the protectors of the core right to vote," said Ned Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University.

POLITICO: Voter ID laws may prevent millions from voting

September 23, 2012
Associated Press
news photo

The combined effects of voter roll purges, demands for proof of citizenship and photo identification requirements in several states may hinder at least 10 million Hispanic citizens who seek to vote this fall, civil rights advocates warn in a new report.

Hispanic voters are considered pivotal to the presidential election this November, and are being heavily courted by both Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. If they turn out in large numbers, Hispanics could sway the outcome in several swing states.

COLORLINES: Young and Black Voters Turn Out in Wisconsin Despite Suppression Efforts

June 6, 2012
Brentin Mock
news photo

It may not feel like there’s anything positive to make out of the unsuccessful bid to recall Gov. Scott Walker in yesterday’s Wisconsin elections, but there were hints of optimism. Young voters and African-American voters did more than their part to show up, according to exit polls and early reports, despite significant efforts to confuse and challenge them from groups that profess to be fighting voter fraud. 

TRUTHDIG: If You Can’t Beat Them, Enjoin Them (From Voting)

December 27, 2011
Amy Goodman
news photo

All eyes are on Iowa this week, as the hodgepodge field of Republican contenders gallivants across that farm state seeking a win, or at least “momentum,” in the campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. But behind the scenes, a battle is being waged by Republicans—not against each other, but against American voters. Across the country, state legislatures and governors are pushing laws that seek to restrict access to the voting booth, laws that will disproportionately harm people of color, low-income people, and young and elderly voters.

NYT: Excessive over votes recorded by electronic machines in New York results in thousands of lost votes

December 6, 2011
Sam Roberts
news photo

-As many as 60,000 of the votes cast in New York State elections last year were voided because people unintentionally cast their ballots for more than one candidate, according to a study being released this week. The excess-voting was highest in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including two Bronx election districts where 40 percent of the votes for governor were disqualified.

-The study, by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, blamed software used with new electronic optical-scan voting machines as well as ambiguous instructions for disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters. The old mechanical lever-operated machines did not allow votes for more than one candidate for the same office.

ACLU: Georgia's voter-registration racially discriminatory

July 7, 2010

WASHINGTON - July 7 - The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee) filed a motion late yesterday in a Washington, D.C. federal court to intervene in a challenge to the Voting Rights Act brought by the state of Georgia. The civil rights coalition is defending the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Act and challenging the state's flawed and racially discriminatory voter-registration practices.

Section 5 has protected racial and language minorities' access to voting across the South and the nation since 1965 and requires some states with a history of discrimination in voting procedures to submit new procedures for federal review before they are implemented.

More Info: 

ACLU motion for intervention here...

Department of Justice letter blocking Georgia's voter verification procedures here...

AP: Residents oppose challenge to Alabama voting rights law

June 25, 2010

BIRMINGHAM — Some black residents in Shelby County, backed by the NAACP and ACLU, are seeking to challenge the county's attempt to have parts of the Voting Rights Act ruled unconstitutional.

The county's lawsuit contends that conditions that kept minorities from voting years ago are a thing of the past.

The U.S. Department of Justice this week responded for the first time to the lawsuit, in which the county asked for a summary judgment. The government said in a motion that the U.S. attorney general opposes a summary judgment and has had no opportunity to gather information in the case.

MOORE: Regaining voting rights for felons is challenging but worthwhile

May 31, 2010
Linda A. Moore

More than 30 years ago, before Stevie Moore was an activist, he did time for selling drugs.

It took several convictions before the founder and president of the anti-violence campaign Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives realized he "wasn't smarter than the system."

Getting out meant living a better life and setting a good example for his then young sons.

So Moore had his right to vote restored.

"When I got out of jail, I got custody of my boys and I raised them for eight years before I got remarried," Moore said. "It's so important that you correct it, to try to set an example for your children."

More Info: 

Original article here... http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/may/31/regaining-voting-rights...

Voting Rights Restoration in Tennessee: For information, go to the Tennessee Department of State's website at state.tn.us/sos/index.htm. Click elections, followed by voter info.

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