Justice coalition sees many challenges to voting rights

Posted 8 December 2021 at 9:55 am

Press Release by Community Coalition for Justice

ALBION – Hoag Library was the site of the Community Coalition for Justice’s fourth 2021 event, a presentation and discussion focused voting rights and how newly minted laws in several other states will prevent easy access for voters – particularly voters of color, young voters and elderly and disabled voters.

The evening began with the viewing of a “Ted Talk” presentation by Stacey Abrams who was a major party candidate for governor of Georgia in 2018 as well as the founder of “Fair Fight Action” (addressing voter suppression). Joyce Riley of Albion moderated the discussion following the Ted Talk. Abrams addressed racial barriers she faced. She advocates asking yourself three questions about everything you do. “What do I want? Why do I want it? How do I get it?”

Riley described Abram’s talk as inspirational, thought-provoking and meant to raise awareness about the value of voting and about how the choices made impact our lives.

Next, the discussion turned to the bestseller “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. Mike Magnuson of Hamlin, who had previously reviewed the book at the library, moderated this segment. Alexander argues that the war on drugs has created a new racial caste system in America disproportionately punishing Black people and thus disproportionately denying them of their voting rights.

This evoked a conversation amongst the group of 17 people, who had braved this snowy cold night, about the laws surrounding the voting rights of those, who have been incarcerated. Terry and Kae Wilbur addressed problems with Native Americans’ voting and their needing to be addressed as well.

Sister Dolores Ann O’Dowd, a committee member and former chaplain at the Albion Correctional Facility, stated that “it is important that those, who are off parole, have their rights restored and are made aware of it.”

Bob Golden, Community Coalition co-chair, quoted articles from editions of America (Jesuit-based) magazine relating to the topic of alleged voter fraud and the unjust implications of some of the voter control efforts that have resulted from the allegations. He feels that the titles of the articles such as “The Negligible to Nonexistent Problem of Voter Fraud” and “Solution Seeking a Problem” tell it all. He handed out recommendations for the voter legislation and an encapsulation of the America’s several articles over this last decade.

Kim Remley of Albion covered three major pieces of voting rights legislation that have been introduced in Congress to restore the protection of the “Voting Rights Act of 1965” – which prevented racial discrimination in voting.

Remley explained that these major pieces have become bogged-down in the Senate due to politics. She further explained that substantive protections provided by the 1965 landmark act have been derailed by Supreme Court decisions. The John Lewis bill, before the Senate, would restore the 1965 Act.

In trying to provide some good news, Remley indicated that there are also several states that have passed laws that make it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballots. She also indicated that there are many organizations that have taken up the cause of preventing voter suppression such as Common Cause, the NAACP, Native American Voting Rights, Sister Simone’s NETWORK Lobby and Fair Fight Action (founder Stacey Abrams).

Community Coalition for Justice plans to resume providing events in the Spring of 2022.

Written by Kim Remley and Bob Golden