Philosopher George Santayana once commented that, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Santayana could have been a prophet to the African-American community. . Repetition seems to be something we’ve become accustomed to, especially in taking for granted that the right to vote will always be there.
I was startled and frightened when the executive director of the NCGOP, out of sheer desperation and fear of losing seats some lawmakers have held since my birth, tried to hijack and bully local boards of elections to change early voting rules. Director Dallas Woodhouse wants to move the goal post less than 70 days before the election and punt to local boards to do what the legislature cannot do.
This doesn’t help African-Americans, Latinos and other minority groups Woodhouse is attempting to disenfranchise, and it does not help that the majority of election boards around the state are Republican controlled. Gov. Pat McCrory made sure of that as soon as he took office.
By limiting the number of early voting hours and shutting down polling sites on Sundays when most churches engage in what has been termed “souls to the polls” after services, Woodhouse is damaging the electoral process and standing in the way of progress. Eliminating the number of hours, days and weeks gives the Republicans a huge advantage, since thousands of minority groups may not be able to make it to the polls on Election Day because many have to work two and three jobs.
This is why presidential elections as well as local elections should be a national holiday.
Also, the districts where people would normally vote have been demolished. I witnessed this during the 2010 election. People who could once walk across a street to vote now find that they have to go across town to vote. Changing the system cheapens the electoral process and makes partisan redistricting an unlikely dream..
The issue is clear. We have a problem with African-Americans voting in this country – period. White America does not have this problem. Many other voting groups who were not even born here do not have this problem. It’s time for the federal government to step in and put a stop to anyone attempting to dismantle the African-American vote. N.C. Republicans have tried over 25 different tactics to rig the voting system in their favor.
Already the governor has asked the Supreme Court for a stay on a recent 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law by saying that it “targeted African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” For Woodhouse to suggest that limiting early voting and eliminating on-site registration would stop voter fraud is ludicrous. It has been proven over and over again that there is virtually no voter fraud in N.C.
Have African-Americans not earned the right in the state and country to have surpassed this kind of balderdash? Haven’t we earned the right to vote without having to prove our worth? Isn’t having minority groups vote in a free and unhampered election good for society?
For African-Americans, Latinos and other minority groups, it is important to take advantage of whatever days we get. With the Wake Board of Elections stacked against Democrats 2-1, my advice is to jam the early polling sites and end this election debacle before Nov. 8. Take advantage of whatever time you are given. Let’s learn from history and not have it repeated. The most valuable voter is one who doesn’t allow history to go unnoticed.
Dr. Earl C. Johnson is the former president of the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association.