The following came to me via email from the People For the American Way Foundation:
I just got back from observing the polls for the mayoral election in New Orleans, and I’m fighting mad. Too many voters – mostly poor and African American, many of them still devastated by Katrina – were denied the access to the ballot box that our Constitution guarantees.
It was infuriating. Polling places had been moved at the last minute. Some were poorly marked. Poll commissioners demanded to see identification when the law does not require it. And there was an intimidating police presence around polling places in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Too many absentee ballots for displaced voters were not counted. Our poll watchers and legal teams are going back to New Orleans for the May 20th runoff. For those of us who lived through the 2000 and 2004 elections, the scene was all too familiar.
It was a life-changing experience for me and our partners, the Louisiana Voting Rights Network, the NAACP and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The various layers of government could have – should have – made voting easy for these citizens. But they didn’t.
I’m worried – terrified is a better word – that this injustice is going to repeat itself around the country as Americans go to the polls to elect new Congress Members and Senators this November.
Someone has to put a stop to the shameless abuse of our fundamental right.
Yours in the struggle,
Sharon J. Lettman
Director, National Programs and Outreach
People For the American Way Foundation