rain
Wednesday May 27th, 2015 3:56AM

Black women rally against voter ID laws

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Reese isn't waiting for people to come to her to find out whether they are registered to vote.

With iPad in hand, Reese is going to community centers, homes and churches in nine Ohio cities, looking up registrations to make sure voters have proper ID and everything else they need to cast ballots on Election Day.

"We are not going to give back one single inch. We have fought too long and too hard," said Reese, 45, coordinator of the Columbus-based Ohio Unity Coalition, an affiliate of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

Reese is part of a cadre of black women engaged in a revived wave of voting rights advocacy four years after the historic election of the nation's first black president. Provoked by voting law changes in various states, they have decided to help voters navigate the system - a fitting role, they say, given that black women had the highest turnout of any group of voters in 2008.

"We've forgotten our mothers went to three jobs, picked us up from school, put the macaroni and cheese on the table, got up and got somebody registered to vote," said actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, one of several women who participated in a strategy session this week during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual legislative conference in the nation's capital. Ralph is married to Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Hughes.

The political and financial power of black women is one of the themes of this year's four-day event. It will culminate Saturday with a keynote speech from one of the most visible black women in America, first lady Michelle Obama.

"It's time for us to lead the way because we voted in greater numbers than any other gender and race group last election, and we got to do the same this year," said Elsie Scott, president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Turnout among women of all races is generally higher than for men. In 2008, about 69 percent of eligible black female voters went to the polls, an increase of 5.1 percentage points over 2004, according to a study of census data on 2008 voters by the Pew Hispanic Center. That compares with 66.1 percent of white women.

African-American women, who number about 20 million in the U.S., have long been the largest group of Democratic voters in the country, said David Bositis, senior research associate with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

In a room at the Washington Convention Center on Wednesday, the sense of urgency among the women was palpable. They noted that voter registration deadlines in some states are as early as Oct. 6, the last of them on Oct. 16. Few attendees accepted the argument that the new voting laws were intended to fight fraud, as supporters of those laws maintain.

Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of The Advancement Project, said black women showed in 2008 they can turn out in record numbers. But in 2010, "we sat home and while we were sitting at home, there were others that were plotting and what they decided to do was to change the rules of the game."

The women invoke the name of abolitionist and women's suffragist Sojourner Truth, and repeat civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer's famous line - "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired" - as a rallying cry. They talk strategy about checking to see who's been purged from voter rolls or locating documents that voters need to get photo identification. All along, they remind voters of the time, before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law, when black people were kept from voting.

Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said a voter hotline set up by several groups already gets a thousand calls a day. Callers are typically people who don't know if they can vote, whether their felony conviction keeps them from voting or what ID is required in their state, if at all.

Her organization has created a computer app that allows people to verify their registration status, get help registering online, learn about voting requirements in their state, find polling places and receive other assistance.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Ga. ethics legislation could end free tickets
General Assembly approval next year of a proposed ethics reform measure could endanger an important fall tradition for Georgia lawmakers - free football tickets.
6:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Abortion restrictions, tax changes loom in Ga.
Tax breaks for manufacturers and higher unemployment taxes for employers take effect with the new year in Georgia, but it remains to be seen whether the state's newest abortion restrictions will be enforced.
6:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Budget battle sends mixed signals on health care
Confused about the federal budget struggle? So are doctors, hospital administrators and other medical professionals who serve the 100 million Americans covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
6:20PM ( 2 years ago )
Politics
US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to "cynically manipulate" the process by...
9:33PM ( 4 days ago )
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 1 month ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 1 month ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )