Today, Congressmen John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced a constitutional amendment to restore fairness to our electoral system. The resolution addresses harm caused by the Supreme Court’s flawed decision in Citizens United by declaring that spending on elections does not qualify as protected speech under the First Amendment, giving Congress the authority to create a public financing system as the sole source of funding for federal elections and designating a national holiday for the purpose of voting.
Senators Ben Cardin and Charles Schumer introduced a bill today that would impose tough penalties on those who create and distribute deceptive information on voting and elections.
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
ARE YOU READY TO BE A VESSEL?
ARE YOU READY TO VOTE?
Elections happen all the time. Please check the following to indicate your readiness to be a VESSEL and to VOTE!
I am 18 years old, or will be on/before Election Day.
I am the holder of a valid, legally recognized form of photo identification with my current home (place of resident) address.
I am aware of the expiration date on my photo identification.
I am aware of my polling (voting) location.
I am aware of the dates for upcoming special and general elections so I will not be confused by calls, flyers, and lies.
I am aware of the offices, websites and telephone numbers to call if I have a questions or problem.
I am aware of my right to be a registered voter.
I am aware of my right to vote.
I am aware of my right to have my vote counted.
I am aware of my need to stay informed of voter laws by educating myself and others in my family, neighborhood, place of worship.
I am a US citizen.
I am aware of 5 others who are of voting age I need to speak with and ask:
ARE YOU READY TO BE A VESSEL?
ARE YOU READY TO VOTE?
Top 10 Things Voters Should Know as They Go to the Polls
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power maybe of God and not of us…
10. Who and what is on the ballot … Be an informed voter! Know about all the candidates as well as any ballot initiatives.
9. Where local polling places are located … Has it changed since the last time you voted? Have you moved? Polls are generally located in public buildings, with voters assigned to locations based on where they reside. Contact your local election office to find your polling place.
8. When the polls are open … Polling hours vary by state. Confirm the time with your local election office. Always plan ahead and arrive early with 2 or more voting age persons prepared to vote. Also, if you are in line to vote when the polls close you have the right to cast your vote.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed
7. How to cast your ballot … Before Election Day, ask your local election office which machine you will be using on Election Day. Familiarize yourself and always ask for assistance if you are unsure how to cast your vote. Poll workers are required to provide you with assistance.
6. How to cast an absentee ballot … In a timely fashion, properly complete and send in your absentee ballot application and then submit your absentee ballot before the deadline. Be aware of and meet all deadlines for the absentee application and the absentee ballot itself. Contact your local election office if you need assistance.
5. How to vote early … Does your state have early voting or is it known as “absentee ballots” that can be requested by phone, in person or by mail? Contact your local election office to find out and take advantage.
… we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 13a (NKJV)
4. How to vote if you are disabled … Despite HAVA (Help America Vote Act of 2002) reforms, many polling places still aren’t easily accessible to disabled voters or persons with special needs including reading. Contact your local election office for information about accessibility at your polling place and how you will be able to cast your vote.
3. How to vote if English is not your first language ... If you require assistance reading an English ballot and casting your ballot on Election Day, in some districts you have the right to receive voting materials in your own language. Contact your local elections office to find out.
2. How to vote if you are a formerly incarcerated person (ex-offender) … No federal laws exist on felon voting and therefore the legal ability of people with felony convictions to vote varies from state to state. Check with your local elections office to know your rights – especially if you were convicted of a felony and have fully served and completed your sentence and are no longer on probation or parole. In 13 states and the District of Columbia, your voting rights are automatically restored upon release from prison and you can register to vote and exercise that vote.
Believe and speak with your vote!
1. What forms of identification are accepted at the polls … In 2008, we saw problems having to do with voters receiving the incorrect type of ballot, improper information from poll judges about what forms of voter ID are required in their state, and much more. Because of new or unfamiliar voter ID laws in some states, new technology that’s not remotely consistent in many jurisdictions from year to year, and the sheer number of voters turning out, we expect more confusion each and every time an election is held. ID requirements vary by state, so check TODAY with your local election office for information on what you’ll need to provide.
“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
-- Paul Weyrich, “founding father of the modern conservative movement,”1980
A new Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by People For the American Way Foundation reveals how the Right Wing distorts and exaggerates the impact of improper voting in order to implement policies that keep millions of eligible Americans from casting votes. The report, “The Right to Vote Under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box,” is available here.
“Laws proposed to address the mythical problem of ‘voter fraud’ undermine the very foundation of our democracy,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation. “The Right Wing, with no evidence, has propagated the myth of widespread voter fraud as an excuse to create laws that are all about making it harder for people vote. Their clear target is driving down Democratic turnout and installing in office people who will do the bidding of the Right Wing and their Republican allies. Stealing elections by systematically disenfranchising millions of voters is as unpatriotic as it gets.”
The report uncovers:
“This report reveals just how the far the Right Wing is willing to go to win elections,” continued Keegan. “Eroding the achievements of the Civil Rights movement by disenfranchising voters is abhorrent. All Americans have a fundamental right to vote, and we need to be vigilant to make sure that ever eligible voter is ready and able to vote on Election Day.”
The report is available here.
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.