Joint Statement from Southern Echo, Inc. and NOBEL Women on Voter Education and Empowerment

by: State Rep. Laura Hall (AL), NOBEL Women National President and Leroy Johnson, Executive Director, Southern Echo, Inc.

Dear Friends,

The cornerstone of our Nation’s democracy is under attack. In States throughout this country countless Americans are being denied their constitutional right to have their voices heard through the electoral process by way of extreme Voter ID law measures, gerrymandered districts, and polarization. We have reason to believe that the ugly plight of racism is largely responsible for these marginal tactical antics to silence millions of Americans. Low wealth and communities of color are fighting to restore justice where there seems to be very little to none.

In 2013, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the landmark case, Shelby County v. Holder, regarding the constitutionality of two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: Section 5 and Section 4(b). Section 5 required certain states and local governments to obtain federal pre-clearance before implementing any changes to voting laws or practices; and Section 4(b), provided the formula that determined which jurisdictions were subjected to pre-clearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.

Prior to the gut wrenching Supreme Court decision, to dilute Section 5 and eliminate Section 4(b), the burden of proof lied with states to show that proposed voting policy changes did not undermine voting rights privileges. Without the pre-clearance process that burden has shifted to many of our less affluent communities who cannot bare the expense of pricey litigation costs to fight such unjust laws, poll closings, and obscured discrimination and fear practices.

Protecting the voting rights of the Nation’s most venerable is of the upmost importance to us. Though difficult, we are not dissuaded. We are insistent on increasing voter education by encouraging minorities and youth to know the rules-get a Voter ID, if that is what’s required; don’t become disenchanted with the process register to vote; become knowledgeable on the issues and hold your elected officials accountable.

Together we stand empowered. That’s why the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL Women) and Southern Echo, Inc., have partnered together to issue a joint statement and launch a nationwide voter education campaign to help underscore these principles and promote civic engagement among communities of color.

NOBEL Women is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, committed to increasing and promoting the presence of Black women in leadership and takes an active interest in protecting the public welfare of women and girls by supporting public policy initiatives that contribute to the betterment and sustainability of the Black community. Southern Echo is a grassroots community organizing organization working regionally in the South and Southwest to build organizations with leadership that is accountable to communities and the substantive issues that are important to them.

Join us as we amplify the voice and concerns of the Black community and issue a nationwide call to action in educating, empowering, energizing and mobilizing minority communities throughout this Nation.

Remember, your choice is your voice…Vote Responsibly.

Sincerely,

Rep. Laura Hall (AL), National President, NOBEL Women
Rep. Laura Hall (AL), National President, NOBEL Women
Leroy Johnson, Executive Director, Southern Echo, Inc.
Leroy Johnson, Executive Director, Southern Echo, Inc.
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