Voter registration as a two-year commitment
EACH ONE HELP ONE - TO VOTE!
As we face the next two years with a reconstituted DNC, the millstone around our necks is the racist, systemic voter disenfranchisement. Too many traditionally Blue states have engaged in voter registration laws that almost certainly keep even lifelong voters from now being able to exercise their fundamental rights. Gerrymandered districts are another form of voter suppression. Between these two attacks plus "purging" voter rolls of presumed felons who, in many states, do not resume voting rights upon completion of the sentences, millions have been barred from voting. It is absolutely no coincidence that these voters are largely people of color, heavily leaning toward the Democratic Party in their sympathies. This is not an accident. It is a deliberate theft of our rights by racist conservatives whose actions did change the outcome of the 2016 elections, both state and federal.
DNC and former Attorney General Holder are tackling some of these issues through the courts and doing so successfully - several states have been barred from using their gerrymandered districting or their purged rolls.
It's NOT enough. We have to begin making voter registration a major priority along with every other fight for our rights.
Here is my two-year strategy:
- EVERY person in a state with draconian registration laws who is privileged enough to have ID and access MUST choose one OTHER person who does not have such access. Then you have to help them get it. If they do not have ID (home births often have no birth certificates) try this: write to Social Security and have them send your person an update on their plan. With that OFFICIAL governmental paper plus utility bills, etc. in that person's name, go to the DMV or whoever issues ID and see if you can get an ID card (not necessarily a driver's license.) It's tough because in some states such as Texas you have to have a birth certificate to get ID and ID to get a birth certificate. This might not work, but it's worth a try. In many where a birth certificate is absent - midwives with home births in rural areas rarely filed them - a Bible record, a baptismal certificate, or even a notarized witness statement from a blood relative, can be used. (Did not say this was easy!) Census information can also help and is available through 1940 online with personal information on name and age of even infants.
- I don't know if it works, but Vitalchek.com CLAIMS to be able to get your certified birth certificate from any state. It runs around $2-$50 for the certificate plus an additional processing fee of $2-16 for the help. If you're working with someone who is poor - PAY FOR THIS. TAKE that person to get whatever you can, also pay for it if necessary.
- Then enroll them to vote and prepare to do so via absentee ballot. That prevents long lines, important for the infirm or elderly. Every state has absentee ballots, and you can apply via Vote.org You fill out the request online.
- Obviously the person has to be registered first, but SCOTUS upheld the law that you can do that without showing ID since it is sworn under penalty of perjury. That's the current federal standard.
- If we each make a commitment to get an unregistered person registered and help them vote, it will change everything. I registered six homeless people (used my address which is also on their ID now) who voted in the last election. Even in CA this can be a problem for homeless folks. Using YOUR address is perfectly legal as is using a social service office or homeless shelter serving them where they are known.
- Yes it's work. But it can help. I imagine there are some cases where getting records is not possible, but we can cut down the size of the problem for those who have barriers of time and money and knowledge on how to do this.
- I would also encourage churches to work on re-enrolling people illegitimately cut from the voter rolls through that dreadful "Crosscheck" program that has proven SO inaccurate. Getting people reinstated for mis-identification is huge. Having chuches back up the claim is also huge. In states that permit criminal records to be expunged, work on getting that done. The information for expungement is online for most states that permit it. Then register that person. Note that if the crime occurred outside a state that permits expungement of felony records, it can be much more tricky. I don't have good advice outside of legal aid. (Federal funds for legal aid are being cut, by the way. Sigh.)
If we all do what we CAN do, we can enroll or re-enroll hundreds of thousands of people. This is reclaiming our democracy one vote at a time. We CAN do this. We MUST do this.
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