WHEREAS, Black Americans voted in record numbers in 2020, casting the deciding votes in elections up and down the ballot and ushering in an era of change. Black communities across the nation suffered loss of health, jobs, and lives in the wake of the global pandemic; faced violence and brutality at the hands of the police; and endured myriad efforts to keep Black people from voting. And yet, Black voters turned out in droves because, as many in the Black community said, "Our lives depended on it."
WHEREAS, with attacks on our right to vote, our right to protest and our ability to simply live, the work is not over for the Biden Administration or for Congress. Even as Black people across America endure the collective trauma of Black deaths on a loop and mourn the 335 lives lost to police violence since the beginning of 2021, Republicans are working overtime to criminalize our right to protest, block measures to reshape policing, and enact modern-day poll taxes that threaten our vote and our jobs.
WHEREAS, election officials across this country — including Republican election officials — have attested that this past election was one of the most secure elections in our nation's history. Security isn't the issue. The issue is the aggressive, blatant, and racist campaign to restrict access to the ballot and marginalize the voices of Black voters.
WHEREAS, our robust democracy must meet this challenge through adopting a set of reforms designed to promote safe and accessible elections including the following:
- Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act – H.R.4 to help protect voters from racial discrimination and voter suppression.
- The Biden Administration and Congress must continue to improve on the minimum standards that passed in several states due to the COVID-19 pandemic in several key areas of election administration to ensure full and safe voter participation. This means offering a variety of measures to make voting accessible during this public health crisis, including automatic and same day registration and the use of paper ballots instead of touchscreen machines, in order to reduce the spread of #COVID-19.
- No-fault absentee voting (Mail-In Voting and ballot drop offs) should be available in every state. Most states already allow some form of voting by mail, but the rules vary widely and not everyone knows about the opportunity and how it works. To counter historic problems around absentee balloting, we must take great care to ensure that votes are freely and fairly cast and that ballots will be securely returned, tracked through the USPS, processed, and counted in a fair and accurate manner. These provisions must also eliminate barriers to requesting and returning ballots including but not limited to eliminating requirements for notarization, copying and scanning of identification, and postage charges.
- Election Day voting must be safely administered and fully available with sufficient precincts, machines and poll workers to match the number of eligible voters. Having enough sites must be ensured so that all voters have a choice and easy access to vote in person. African Americans are least likely to vote by mail. Our community fought hard to secure the right to vote, and even today, most Black voters choose to cast their ballot in person. Given the history and significance of in-person voting to our community, it is essential that in-person voting options be retained and expanded to ensure voter safety throughout this crisis.
- Early voting should be championed and supported across all states with a minimum of two weeks guaranteed including weekends. This should also include expanded voting hours and curbside voting.
- Guaranteed safety of our poll workers, who are the backbone of our local democracy through ensuring CDC compliant Covid-19 protective gear, hazard pay and access to free emergency medical coverage if needed due to possible exposure while working the polls.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP advocates for the US Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act H.R.4 that will provide adequate funding and resources to state and local jurisdictions to improve and provide safe, secure and effective voting systems and that no excuse mail-in voting be secured in every state and territory.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP strongly urge elected officials of all political parties at the national, state and local levels to work together to enact policy, appoint federal, state and local election officials and judges who will protect the health of every voter and ensure the opportunity to cast a free and unfettered ballot and have their vote counted.