Voting Rights

VESSELS Vote

VESSELS are people of faith -- clergy, pastors, ministry and community leaders, men, women and young adults -- firmly committed to increasing civic participation in communities that traditionally have been disenfranchised or discriminated against.

African American Ministers Leadership Council Launches Nationwide 2012 Get Out the Vote Program

On Sunday, November 6, People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, a nationwide network of African American clergy, will launch a yearlong program to turn out the vote in the 2012 elections. The VESSELS program will work with at least 400 clergy from across the country to respond to widespread attacks on voting rights by educating, training and turning out voters.

The effort will focus on twelve key states with large African American populations that have been hit by right-wing attacks on voting rights, including suppressive voter ID laws.

Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of the African American Ministers Leadership Council , said:

“African American voters are under assault from right-wing legislators who think they can win elections by keeping us from voting. We must respond by knowing our rights, educating our fellow voters and turning out even more people to the polls than we did in 2008. This is not a partisan issue: it’s about ensuring that our democracy lives up to its highest ideals.

“Throughout American history, the Black Church has been a powerful force behind efforts to ensure that all Americans have access to our Constitutional rights. The current battles over voting rights are no exception. As dozens of states pass laws making it harder to vote, we must work harder to ensure that everybody who can participates in the democratic process. We believe that God gave us a voice, and we must use it to speak with our vote.”

Rev. Dr. Roland Womack, Jr., Chair of AAMLC and retired pastor of Milwaukee’s Progressive Baptist Church , said:

“The Vessels program is extremely important to the 2012 election, at a time when the rights of all people are not recognized and a permanent ruling class determines the decisions and direction of this country. I am participating because I am old enough to remember how it used to be and I promised my father and my God that I would not stand by and let this happen to us again.”

Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Samuel, Vice-Chair of AAMLC and Founder and Pastor of Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia , added:

“The current Occupy Wall Street movement along with ancillary movements in cities around the world is further testimony to the importance of citizens’ involvement in our political process. The VESSELS program is an important step toward voter empowerment. Our democracy depends on it.”

More information about the African American Ministers Leadership Council and the VESSELS program can be found here.

People For the American Way Foundation’s report,

The Right to Vote Under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box

is available here.

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Today, a group of concerned Americans held a press conference outside of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s summer meeting in New Orleans.

ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures

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Restore My Vote Campaign

Information about Clemency

In April of 2007, Florida took a significant step toward full democracy for ex-offenders seeking to have their right to vote restored. Governor Charlie Crist persuaded the state's Clemency Board to adopt new regulations. The new rules "automatically" restore the rights of ex-offenders who have committed non-violent crimes, have completed their sentences and probation, and paid victim restitution.

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Senators Clear Path Toward Granting Full Representation For District Residents

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People For Memo On Election Day '08 Voting Issues

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Voting Rights Opponent Appeals to Supreme Court

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Republicans Block Emergency Ballot Bill in the House

In response to the failed vote on Rep. Zoe Lofgren's Emergency Ballot Bill, People For the American Way Director of Public Policy Tanya Clay House released the following statement:

People For the American Way Praises Governor Sebelius’ Veto of House Bill 2019

Today, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed House Bill 2019. If signed by the govenor, the bill would have instituted a burdensome proof of citizenship and identification requirement, potentially disenfranchising thousands of Kansas’ elderly, disabled, minority, and low-income voters. People For the American Way Senior Vice President and National Field Director Mary Jean Collins today praised Gov. Sebelius for standing up for the rights of Kansas voters, and hailed the veto as a victory for all voters.

People For the American Way Responds to Hans von Spakovsky’s Withdrawal of His Nomination to the FEC

Following Hans von Spakovsky’s withdrawal of his nomination to the Federal Election Commission, Tanya Clay House, Director of Public Policy at People For the American Way said, “It’s clear that Hans von Spakovsky, who worked under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was not an appropriate choice to sit on the Federal Election Commission, or any commission charged with overseeing Americans’ voting rights and fair election practices.

The New Face of Jim Crow: Voter Suppression in America

It is becoming much harder for many Americans to vote. The barriers range from unintentional to obvious to insidious, and they are proliferating across the nation. Racial minorities, students, the poor, and senior citizens are bearing the brunt of new rules and regulations that discourage and limit voting.

Supreme Court End-of-Term Analysis: 2005-06 Term

The 2005-06 term was clearly a period of transition for the Supreme Court, as Chief Justice Roberts replaced Chief Justice Rehnquist, and two justices in a sense replaced Justice O’Connor Justice Alito took her seat on the Court while Justice Kennedy replaced her as the “swing” vote in a number of closely divided cases. And while a relatively large number of the Court’s decisions this term were unanimous (generally where the Court was able to agree on a narrow approach and avoid divisive issues as in the New Hampshire abortion case), the new justices clearly pushed the Court towards the right in several important, closely divided cases.

The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Suppression in America

This report lays out a historical review of more than a hundred years of efforts to suppress and intimidate minority voters following emancipation, through Reconstruction and the “Second Reconstruction,” the years immediately following the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
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