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ELECTION 2008 -
State Registration Challenges Signal Election Troubles in November
New, Young Voters Verify-Confirm Registrations Now
Lone Star Power Pages
AUSTIN-With conflicts brewing over voter registration and procedures, the name of the game for Election 2008 is verification.
African-Americans and Hispanics voting for the first time can’t take for granted that voting registrars in their counties across America will get it right.
Every new voter must step up and make sure their name is registered and on the rolls because registrations are being challenged nationwide by those who know that increasing eligible voters increases the chances of changing the balance of power in Washington.
Conflicts over voter registration and voting procedures have cropped up in key states of Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida.
Each could play major roles in determining whether Democrat Presidential nominee Barak Obama or Republican nominee John McCain will occupy the White House.
In Wisconsin, the Republican attorney general sued a state board this week over a process of comparing voter names with driver's-license records.
In Florida, the Florida Department of State announced this week that it will begin enforcing a controversial law that requires matching an identifying number on voter-registration forms with government databases that critics say are prone to mistakes.
In Ohio, the state Republican Party spearheaded a lawsuit over a directive from the office of Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that would allow some early voters to register and vote on the same day.
The challenges in these states and others soon to come are brewing storms that will make landfall Nov. 4 and attempt to change another election.
The Historical Struggle to Vote
One reason to verify, demand and protect voting rights is linked to the great African-American struggle on the way to voting rights. Many African-Americans and women have fought, suffered and died to obtain the right to vote.
For years, Jim Crow Laws in the South prevented Blacks from voting. Starting with Mississippi in 1890, through 1910 the former Confederate states passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disfranchised most blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency and record-keeping requirements. Grandfather clauses temporarily permitted some illiterate whites to vote. Black voter turnout dropped drastically through the South as a result of such measures.
Denied the ability to vote, blacks and poor whites could not serve on juries or in local office. They could not influence the state legislatures, and, predictably, their interests were overlooked.
While public schools had been established by Reconstruction legislatures, those for black children were consistently under funded, even within the strained finances of the South. The decreasing price of cotton kept the agricultural economy at a low.
In 1964 in Neshoba Country, Miss., the bodies of three civil-rights workers—two white, one black—are found in an earthen dam, six weeks into a federal investigation backed by President Johnson.
James E. Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 21; and Michael Schwerner, 24, had been working to register black voters in Mississippi, and, on June 21, had gone to investigate the burning of a black church. They were arrested by the police on speeding charges, incarcerated for several hours, and then released after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered them.
In March 1965, Blacks begin a march to Montgomery in support of voting rights but are stopped at the Pettus Bridge by a police blockade. Fifty marchers are hospitalized after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The incident is dubbed "Bloody Sunday" by the media. The march is considered the catalyst for pushing through the voting rights act five months later.
Congress finally passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal.
The fight for voting rights was fierce, but despite the challenges of violence and death threats, civil rights patriots remained undaunted.
Another reason for young voters and those new to the election process to stand up and verify amidst attempts to challenge and control voter registration is the election of 2000.
In 2000, then Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, former governor of Texas were part of one of the most controversial elections in modern times that raised issues over voter disenfranchisement, registration and voting irregularities.
Bush narrowly won the November 7 election, with 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266 electoral votes.
The election featured a controversy over who won Florida's 25 electoral votes and thus the presidency, the recount process in that state, and the unusual event that Gore had received 543,816 more popular votes than the winner.
In American presidential election, the electoral vote determines the winner, and Bush won this count, although Gore received the most votes (called the "popular vote").
It was the fourth time in American history that a candidate won the presidency without receiving the popular vote. It also happened in the elections of 1824, 1876 and 1888.
Take the initiative because no one wants a repeat of the 2000 election.
It is important for every new African-American and Hispanic voter to ensure they are bonified come Nov. 4.
There are those in America who do not want you to exercise your God-given right to vote. That group seeks to chip away at your freedoms and wants to manipulate the vote and control the election.
Voting rights are among the most important rights you have as an American. It gives you voice and helps you have a stake in determining future leaders, policies and the direction of this great Republic.
Without a diligent review of voting status and verification, a new voter risks getting to the polls in November and being turned away without getting to cast a ballot.
Get ready for the game. Make your vote count. Verify.