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Resolution

NAACP Decries Efforts to Disenfranchise Millions of Eligible American Voters, Disproportionately African Americans and Other Racial and Ethnic Minorities

WHEREAS, since the beginning of 2011, anti-democracy extremist state legislators across our Nation have been promoting various legislative initiatives which would have the result of disenfranchising millions of eligible voters; and

WHEREAS, during recent legislative sessions all over the country, lawmakers have proposed, and often passed regressive so called "voting laws", re-framing our democracy to the pre-1965 Voting Rights Act and worse; and

WHEREAS, these disenfranchising proposals include bills which would make it harder for ex-felony offenders to vote; a shortening or a termination of early voting periods, same day registration, and Sunday voting; place onerous restrictions on voter registrations by non-partisan third-parties, such as the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and other non-partisan organizations and groups; place stringent requirements on individuals who have moved or changed their name; and photo identification requirements; and

WHEREAS, a disparate number of disenfranchised voters are African American and other racial and ethnic minorities, seniors, students, low-income Americans, disabled Americans, women and members of the military; and

WHEREAS, for example up to 21 million Americans, or 11% of the entire eligible voting-age population, do not have government-issued photo IDs. A full 25% of African Americans who would otherwise be eligible to vote do not have a "qualified" photo ID; and

WHEREAS, the photo ID laws and the felony disenfranchisement laws, and other policies and practices of the United States deny the right to vote to a large segment of its minority population in a manner inconsistent with the general principles of international human rights law as codified in international obligations by which the United States is bound, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (ADRDM); and

WHEREAS, these disenfranchising laws are, sadly, gaining steam: since late spring several states have seen forward movement on these proposals and in several more states the legislatures are expected to consider these anti­ democratic initiatives this fall; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP has strong existing policy in support of ex-felon re­ enfranchisement immediately upon release from prison; in support of same-day registration; in support of early voting; and in opposition to discriminatory photo ID requirements for registering and voting; and

WHEREAS, while supporters of these disenfranchising initiatives purport to be combating "voter fraud," numerous studies have shown this is not factually accurate, and if it were, these proposals would do nothing to combat them; nothing in the legislation addresses actual documented problems of election and voter fraud, such as the improper purges of voters, distributing false information about when and where to vote, stuffing ballot boxes, and tampering with registration forms, the vast majority of which are perpetrated by corrupt election officials, not voters; and

WHEREAS, many of these proposals appear to be a blatant partisan attempt to change the political outcome of elections. In North Carolina, for example, an estimated 270,000 African American voters lack a qualifying photo ID; the Presidential victor of North Carolina in 2008 won the state by less than 14,000 votes; and

WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was instrumental in passing the 1965 Voting Rights Act and subsequent reauthorizations, as well as the Motor-Voter Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2001. These laws have proven themselves to be catalysts of a new era of democracy, resulting in the prohibition of the federal, state or local governments from denying and oppressing citizens the right to vote; and

WHEREAS, on June 22, 2011, the US House of Representatives failed to pass H.R. 672, an extremist bill to eliminate the NAACP-supported and much needed Election Assistance Commission, which was created by the NAACP-supported Help America Vote Act in 2001. This bipartisan commission was established to act as a clearinghouse of information and as a resource to state and local election officials who want to employ the most current technology and best practices when overseeing elections. The Election Assistance Commission also oversees voting-system testing and certification. Through research, grant­ making and the development of voting guidelines, the Election Assistance Commission is helping many groups, which had heretofore been disenfranchised gain their Constitutional right to vote, including racial and ethnic minorities, members of the Armed Services (especially those serving overseas), disabled Americans and senior citizens. Since its creation the Election Assistance Commission had been admirable, especially in light of the fact that it has never been adequately funded; and

WHEREAS, these disenfranchising proposals fly in the face of the NAACP's struggle that all eligible Americans may cast a free and unfettered vote and be assured that vote will be counted; and

WHEREAS, in Michigan Public Act 4 of 2011 vastly expands the powers of the Emergency Manager and allows complete authority in the designated local municipality, without transparency or accountability.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls on all units to identify and fight against these disenfranchising proposals at the local, state and federal levels through civic engagement, advocacy and efforts to educate the people of the jurisdiction of the true impact of these anti-democratic proposals and initiatives; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP urge its Units to oppose any proposed or pending local, state or federal legislation, that makes it harder for citizens to vote; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP respond to these attempts to take away our democratic right to vote through an aggressive campaign of voter registration, education, get-out-the-vote and voter protection; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its support for the Federal Election Assistance Commission and calls on Congress and the President to fully fund this important federal agency; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP utilize its NGO status at the United Nations to coordinate strategies and approaches to leverage the international community in the struggle to eliminate disenfranchising practices within the United States; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP develop a "This is My Vote" campaign to culminate on Election Day- Tuesday, November 6, 2012; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP staff shall conduct in-depth voter registration and education trainings at State Conference conventions across the country, as well as trainings on voter turnout and election protection at the 2012 Civil Rights Advocacy Training Institutes (CRATis), with phase II of the campaign to be launched at the 2012 annual convention in Houston, Texas; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that by the King Holiday in 2012, NAACP units will be expected to launch a local voter registration and education campaign with clear, measurable and realistic goals.

Together Power Vote Hero - NAACP

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