Community Voices Reflect on the
2020 Civil Rights Agenda
Voting, Democracy and Civil Rights
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Frances Huntley-Cooper
Former Mayor of
Fitchburg
Get Active in the 2020 Election
Voting, Democracy and Civil Rights — an appropriate theme for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. CCH edition. Milwaukee is hosting, for the first time ever in the
state of Wisconsin, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) from July 13 - 16, 2020 ! We are set to make this convention the best ever! We have a great
Democratic Governor Tony Evers who believes in the people of Wisconsin and a great Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair, Ben Wikler, who is already working to
bring all Wisconsinites together!

I get very excited as I think of what the voters are doing to return Wisconsin blue in November and how this state will be a leader in turning other states. We
cannot repeat history by assuming “we’ve got this” and not show up at the polls. We cannot repeat history by assuming that every eligible individual is a
registered voter. Many of our neighbors, friends, younger age students and family members still need to register. The list goes on and on, so we need to join the
team to get involved and make a difference!

How can I make a difference and participate in the political process you ask. Let me share a little about my journey in politics that I hope will inspire you to, at a
minimum, show up and vote at the polls.

As a former elected official, I started out with no political experience. I would always show up to vote, but that was about it. Your vote matters and your vote
counts so at least commit to meeting the candidates running for office, ask questions of them and find out what issues are important to them. Also, share with them
what issues are important to you and ask how the candidates can support your issues or your agenda. Candidates appear at community forums or community
events, they should be accessible to you. If you have an hour here and there, commit to making phone calls, enter data, walk the neighborhoods to hand out a
candidate’s literature, host a coffee in your neighborhood or fundraiser or simply check out their website to see who they are and how you can help through
volunteering.

I recall when running for Fitchburg Mayor, I had friends who would take care of my children for the afternoon so I could walk the streets to campaign or they would
donate in-kind services to help my campaign. All I am saying is ask yourself, how can I help and where can I assist the most? Even if you don’t live in a candidate’
s district, you can still help in many ways, including making a donation to her/his campaign.

In addition to helping your local candidates run and win their races, the DNC is a great place to get involved. At all levels there are training opportunities for you so
you don’t have to be a pro at entry level opportunities. Simply find out what volunteer opportunities are available and commit to giving back. The DNC will need
volunteers from across the state and I know the State DPC chair, Ben Wikler, can assist you in finding an opportunity that works for you. Please reach out and sign
up now. You can even start with your local municipality or county.
All elected officials at all levels are open to having a conversation about issues of importance to you and welcome support at any level. They will listen.

There are many opportunities to serve your party and give a little of your time and skills to our community. There are positions and opportunities that aren’t as
visible, but just as important that help us gain victory.

I close with knowing of a few family members who refuse to register or vote, and that was a shocker to me. But what gives me hope is reflecting on my
grandmother who was born in 1900. She lived into this century. She saw, and lived through, a lot of American history and she didn’t miss an opportunity to cast her
vote at each election. I hope all of us who want to make a difference to improve our quality of life will start by voting. Use your hard earned right to vote. Let’s get
educated on issues and show up at the polls to vote. Take a few folks with you. Call and remind others — it is Election Day. Ask if they’ve voted yet. Now in
November….let’s do our part and turn Wisconsin Blue!
Greg Jones
President, NAACP
Dane County Chapter
The Fight for the Right to Vote is alive in America and Wisconsin.   
For 150 years African Americans have attempted to exercise the fundamental right to vote. This right was granted with the passage of the 15th Amendment. It was
ratified on February 3, 1870 and was the 3rd of the Reconstruction amendments. Ninety-five years later, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 brought in a sweeping federal
law that sought to prevent voting discrimination based on race, color, or membership in a minority group.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 didn't give Blacks the right to vote. It merely enforced already existing rights in a handful of southern states, and it aimed to
overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution.

The Voting Rights Act has been reauthorized several times by Congress since its initial passage. But on June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case
Shelby County v. Holder that a core provision of the Act was unconstitutional. This special provision prohibited certain jurisdictions from implementing any change
affecting voting without receiving preapproval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. ensuring that the change does not discriminate
against protected minorities. Immediately following the decision states began an all-out assault on voting rights. Why?

“Voting is the foundation stone for political action” … Martin Luther King, Jr.
In December 2019, Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy issued a ruling ordering the registrations of up to 234,000 Wisconsin voters be deactivated.  The
ruling is the result of a lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, alleging the Commission
violated state policies relating to “movers,” voters who report an official government transaction from an address different from their voter registration address.
The basis for the suit is the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which flags movers. ERIC is a non-profit organization with the sole mission of
assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens.  It obtains data from a variety of
sources to “flag” voters who may have moved, such as Wisconsin motor vehicle records, voter registration and motor vehicle records from participating states,
along with the National Change of Address database.  Wisconsin is one of 29 states that participates in ERIC. The Commission mailed more than 234,000
notifications to voters in early October based on the ERIC data.  

The NAACP believes the “Movers” List is a smokescreen for voter suppression aimed at people of color
Voter suppression is a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing people from voting. It is any effort, either legal or illegal, by
way of laws, administrative rules, and/or tactics that prevent eligible voters from registering to vote.  

As of early November 2019, statewide 13,267 of the 234,000 flagged voters were found to have registered at a new address and 54,234 mailings were
undeliverable. Meanwhile, 1,666 of mailing recipients wanted to remain registered at their original address, meaning ERIC was likely wrong in assuming they
moved.

A review of the flagged voters by the Wisconsin Elections Commission show that approximately 50,466 residents in Milwaukee County received the mailing.  Of
the 50,466, 34,850 did not respond, 331 requested continuation at the same address and about 15,285 were undeliverable; of the approximate 29,800 residing in
Dane County, 21,727 did not respond, 235 requested continuation at the same address, and 7,846 were undeliverable.  In combination, Milwaukee and Dane
Counties’ voters received about 80,000 notifications. To remove anyone from the voting roll based on faulty and unreliable data is a miscarriage of justice at the
highest level and extreme suppression of the vote.

It is well-known and highly likely that those identified as “movers” are disproportionately low income and people of color, as they are often the most mobile in our
communities. In a 2016 report entitled “Evicted in Dane County, Wisconsin: A Collaborative Examination of the Housing Landscape” race is the most important
factor explaining eviction in Dane County. The most nonwhite neighborhoods experience a disproportionate number of eviction filings. Persons experiencing
eviction will need to find other housing.

What Must we do?
Judge Malloy’s order to purge voters has caused great legal maneuvering among the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, the Wisconsin Department of Justice,
the Wisconsin Elections Commission, partisan political parties, the League of Women Voters, the Wisconsin Legislature and others.  Their rationales range from
dismissing the suit, to filings based on violation of due process, to inadequate notification to voters.  It is likely the case will reach the Wisconsin Supreme Court
and subsequently, the US Supreme Court.  

Regardless of the legal matters unveiled by Judge Malloy’s order, the NAACP intends to:
1.Fight any and all barriers to voting especially those that seek disenfranchisement of thousands of citizens.  
2.Engage in substantial voter civic education programming.

Mobilize at the grassroots level to create a sustained effort to get out the vote in elections at all levels.  
Dr, Charles Taylor
Retired Educator and
CEO of ROAR Enterprises
Voting, Democracy and Civil Rights

What Is at Stake!
If voter suppression, police shootings, kids in cages, racial disparities, climate change, inadequate health care, systemic racism and many other challenges aren’t
enough to get you to vote, and work to create a multi-racial democracy that serves all of us, then I can say with some degree of certainty that this article won’t
either. The purpose of this article is simply to remind you of what is at stake.

I hope you can see the flames and smell the smoke because our nation’s house is on fire. Those buckets of water that you see all around represent votes. Are you
going to pick up a bucket or remain cynical and shout, “Burn baby burn?” I know what I’m going to do.

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we witnessed the ultimate sacrifice he made for us to have the right to vote. King never gave up
hope and he taught us to remember that we are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors who cleared a path for us, and we too must do our part and clear a path
for those who come after us.

We must honor our parents and grandparents who put their lives on the line so we could pull that voting lever today. They knew that this country would only live up
to its creed “that all men and women are created equal,” if people sacrificed and fought to make it happen. They taught us that when we combine faith with action
that great things are still possible. Do you think they would want us to vote? Do you think they would want all hands on deck, especially our youth?
While young people make up a large portion of the voting-eligible population, they're much less likely than those who are older to get out and vote. In 2016, only 19
percent of people aged 18-29 cast their ballot in the presidential election; at 49 percent, 45-64-year-olds accounted for the largest block of voters that year. In an
America divided more than ever by race and political parties, every vote counts.

We’ve got work to do young people and we need your help. We can’t sit passively by and wait for another Martin Luther King to galvanize us. We can’t wait for
someone else to make our lives better. The answer doesn’t lie out there somewhere but rather with everyone reading this article.  President Barak Obama said,
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” You have this moment to do something great. It is time for you and for me to show up and stand up for justice and to help
save this country.

Every time there is a low voter turnout, poor communities and people of color bear the brunt of social and economic injustice. Conniving politicians skillfully create
racial divisions to keep us from uniting and fighting a common foe.

We need our white brothers and sisters to step up to the plate as well. People of color cannot and should not shoulder the burden for dismantling our racist system
without the all-in support, of white allies. Prejudice and discrimination-we are all guilty of that, but racism is a different beast because it requires power. We can’t
take racism off the table or treat it like it’s a universal experience. People of
color don’t have the power to take voting rights away, or racially profile
whites, or deny whites jobs and housing. There is no equivalent institutional
power they control so whites must take a bigger role in fighting racism.

We cannot undo all of the issues of racism and mistrust that stem from our
country’s racial legacy, but we can do our part to move this fragile democracy
in a new direction. And doing so means recognizing the power of the vote.

Young people of color, if this democracy survives over the next several years
the future demographics are on your side, so don’t give up hope. Your sheer
numbers working with progressive whites will allow you to turn this country
around. Among other things, the most recent U.S. Census tells us that:

For the first time in our history white students are now the minority in U.S.
Public Schools. This cultural shift is occurring in both rural and urban districts
large and small.
Four states and Washington D.C. have “majority-minority populations” and
more states will join their ranks in the upcoming decade.
People of color will be the source of nearly all the population growth in the
nation’s youth and working age population, most of the growth in its voters,
and much of the growth in its consumers and tax base as far into the future as
demographers can see.
The US has an aging and declining White population.
1.4 million Legal immigrants acquire citizenship every 2 years.
17 percent of married couples in 2018 are interracial, and 6.9 percent of the
adult population is biracial and those numbers will continue to increase.
In about 25 years, over 50 percent of the US population will be people of
color.

Here is one more stat I want to leave you with. 50 percent of today’s high
school graduates are non-white and these numbers will continue to increase.
This is the voting bloc of the future. That’s why young people must get prepared
because someday soon you’ll have a nation to run and a chance to build a
genuine interracial democracy. But it won’t be a straight path. Efforts are
already underway to purge voter registrations and discourage you from
participating in this democracy. Rather than bemoan this travesty, take action
now to ensure that you’re a registered voter. Remember Dr. King said, “Our
lives begin to end, the day we become silent about things that matter.” It starts
at the ballot box.