Flex your political muscle--vote!
ELINOR TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 10/4/2012, 4:20 p.m.
This is a huge election year. There is the presidential election, congressional elections and state elections, as well as a myriad of local elections across the country.
In New York today, Sept. 13, there is a primary election-just in case you needed reminding.
Not many New Yorkers are aware of the elections and how important they are. Even more troubling, this is the second time this year that a primary election is flying completely under the radar.
The New York congressional primaries were held June 26. We are not used to voting in June. New Yorkers expect an election on the first Tuesday following a Monday in September. But this year that Tuesday was the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, so the election was moved to Thursday. This is a day when people are not used to voting, and there's a good chance the turnout will be even lower than usual.
While what has happened in New York is a combination of bad dates, bad luck and bad planning, the end result is that countless number of New Yorkers will be disenfranchised because they are not being informed. While this is bad, what is continuing to happen across the country is even worse.
The attack on voting rights continues to leap across the nation, with challenges coming up north, south, east and west. Within the last year, 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws, 11 states currently have these new laws in effect and 41 states have introduced at least 180 bills restricting voting, according to the National Women's Law Center.
These attacks on voting rights mean that our fundamental right to vote now hangs in the balance, and the freedoms we have taken for granted could now be lost altogether.
Among the obstacles placed in our way--many of them reminiscent of the Jim Crow era--are restrictive ID laws, requirements to provide proof of citizenship and the cancellation of early voting. All of these measures are directly affecting the Black community, and disproportionately so. This is clearly an attack on Black America.
Moreover, these actions represent an attack on the idea that a Black man can be and is president of these United States.
While we have unions and civil rights organizations mobilized to fight these draconian measures, we need to keep on speaking out on the larger issues of when we will really have parity, when there will be true equality, and, perhaps most significantly, when our vote will matter just as much.
Well, the fact is our vote does matter, and what is also a fact is that we do vote. That is why they are trying so hard to stop us: because with numbers, there is strength, and with strength, there is power. And that scares some people, especially when the power lies in people with Brown and Black skin.
Make no mistake about it: This assault on us is an assault on America. We need to make sure our voices are heard and stand up for our right to be counted. Become part of the solution, be informed and get involved. And most importantly: VOTE.