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Voter Intimidation in Black Communities – a role for white anti-racists?

Alabama Republicans are barring community organizations from registering eligible voters who are currently incarcerated. Surprisingly, Alabama has a state law that allows certain people – like those with drug possession charges- to vote even while in prison. The Ordinary People’s Society and their national partner the Drug Policy Alliance began a historic voter registration drive earlier this month in prisons across Alabama, with the full support of the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC).

But when GOP party officials found out, they put pressure of the DOC, thereby blocking the community groups’ right to register up to 10,000 eligible voters in prison.

Considering that African Americans make up just a quarter of Alabama residents, but 60% of state prisoner population, the impact of Alabama GOP leaders on Black voter disenfranchisement this election is significant.

“Voter registration drives are an essential part of our democracy, and
this action by the GOP and the Department of Corrections smacks of voter
intimidation,” said Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, founder and executive director
of The Ordinary People’s Society, the group leading the registration
drive. “Our focus isn’t politics, it’s restoration. We’re just doing
what the Bible says, visiting people in prison and ministering to them.
The chairman of the Republican Party and the chairman of the Democratic
Party can go into prisons with us and monitor the registration process.”
Voter intimidation and manipulation in Black communities has a long and unfortunate history in the U.S., and this latest news in Alabama defies claims of an impending “post-racial society.” In many ways, this election season has brought together unlikely alliances and re-energized folks’ enthusiasm for progress in a multicultural world. However, tales like these remind us of the importance of sustained grassroots efforts for racial justice, and the direct acknowledgment and struggle against systemic racism.
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