Voter ID takes center stage at 10th annual Moral March

Voter ID takes center stage at 10th annual Moral March
February 18
00:00 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson

Democracy North Carolina field organizer Linda Sutton boards the chartered bus headed to Raleigh for the 10th annual Moral March on Saturday.

Assuming the North Carolina March 15 primaries go forward without delay, the N.C. NAACP wants at least 5,000 poll monitors spread across the state to ensure that the new voter photo identification rules are carried out fairly, according to Dr. Rev. William J. Barber, president on the N.C. NAACP at last Saturday’s tenth annual Moral March on Raleigh/People’s Assembly.

Led by the N.C. NAACP and the Forward Together Movement, well over 5,000 demonstrators braved the freezing temperatures to march down the Fayetteville Street Mall in downtown Raleigh to the steps of the state capital, where speaker after speaker addressed issues like immigration, improving education and the state providing more affordable healthcare for poor families.

The March 15 primaries, moved up from the traditional May because Republican lawmakers wanted North Carolina to play more of an early role in helping to select the party’s nominee for president, will be the first time since the 2013 state law requiring voter photo ID that it will actually be in force.

The N.C. NAACP/Forward Together Movement have always called voter ID a violation  of constitutional rights, given that all that is legally required is for a voter to be 18 years of age and an American citizen. A federal court just heard testimony in a federal suit against Gov. Pat McCrory and the state Legislature, regarding voter ID, and the new requirement that those without one must fill out a “reasonable impediment” excuse in order to cast a provisional ballot, which could still be challenged and thrown out.

In his remarks before the Moral Marchers, Rev. Barber reiterated that the N.C. NAACP will continue voter restriction laws in the courts, and in the streets.

“The fight for voting rights is personal for me,” Rev. Barber said, recounting how his family has had to fight for them all of his life. “And it is a battle that we will not turn back from now.”

The vote is at the “heart of our democracy,” Barber said. “This is why we’re so concerned, when politics is more a struggle over money and manipulation, than a struggle over of ideas.”

Rev. Barber said when politicians suppress the vote, they want the people to become “slaves to their decisions without citizens having the ability to register their discontent at the ballot box.

“Any politicians who try to suppress the vote are committing a crime against democracy,” Barber charged, who then blasted the Republican-led state Legislature for “stacking and packing” black voters into the First and Twelfth Congressional Districts, a move the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled to be unconstitutional, and law-makers are scrambling to fix by Feb. 19 for the March 15 primaries.

“When you want to decrease and suppress voter participation so you can rule by default; when you draw racially motivated redistricting political maps that segregate black voters and disallow black and white people and Latino voters from coming together to elect candidates of their choice. That’s a crime against democracy! And we must fight back!” declared Rev. Barber.

“We suggest [lawmakers] repent now and begin keeping their promise to protect and defend the Constitution,” Barber continued. He rattled off a laundry list of what he called repressive laws that have made it easier to purchase a gun than to vote; hurt the state’s environment; and made it harder for the unemployed to find work.

“We have come to serve notice, that we will unleash every political, legal, and moral strategy that we can to create the New South.  We will not go back,” Rev. Barber said.

“The more you try to suppress the right to vote, the more we will register and vote,” he continued.  “You can’t stop the people. We will win.  You can’t stop the flow of democracy.  You can’t take government of the people, by the people, from the people. You can’t stop truth. You can’t stop justice. You can’t stop right. We will rise up. It’s on now.”

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