Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Voter Suppression in Oklahoma against Democrats, Minorities

Yesterday’s primaries featured many twists and surprises as numerous incumbents fought to keep their offices from challengers within their own party – resulting in several key shifts and runoff elections that will stretch into August. Oklahoma Representative incumbent John Sullivan’s re-election bid was upset by Tea Party – backed Jim Bridenstine by a slim 4% margin. Meanwhile, in District 2, there was no clear winner to replace retiring Democratic Representative Dan Boren, which will be decided in the August 28th run-offs, which will likely be followed by a slander suit due to several inflammatory campaign ads run by one of the challengers.

This election season has been fraught with controversy of a different kind however – in a state notorious for discrimination and human rights violations, and with the Republican-controlled state government just having disbanded the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission ( ) , something like voter suppression may come as no surprise to many. This is of course not limited to Oklahoma. The Voter ID (known to many as the Voter Suppression) Laws being pushed by Republicans across the country have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters nationwide. Even more fascistic  attempts to crush opposition, such as Florida Governor Rick Scott’s antics, have gained world-wide attention, and a growing number of people are proposing UN elections observers be brought in to ensure fair elections.( ).

Despite assurances this last February that the Voter ID law will not affect honest citizens trying to register to vote, reports are flooding in of just the opposite – that the law does, and is being used to target minorities. A statement reposted on Facebook by the NAACP state Political Action Director Ali Canada details the violations -

“I am retired, seventy-seven years old, have enjoyed continuous driving privileges of ‘driver's license’ since age sixteen, white, and therefore have had no previous reason to be familiar with the process of getting a ‘State ID’. I was appalled today by circumstances to have learned how suppressing the process is and wonder if it may be due to political design to make it difficult for less fortunate of our citizens to obtain required identification to vote in this state. It all stated about three weeks ago. A friend who had just moved from another state told me that an employer had promised to hire him for a better-paying job if he had an Oklahoma Driver's License. So, I furnished him a ride to Department of Public Safety to get the license. I recall wondering at the time how difficult and time-consuming it would have been to get to DPS by himself without a vehicle or bus service. Nevertheless, once there and after presenting his official home state identification card, he was told Oklahoma does not recognize his North Carolina ID and that he would need an official Oklahoma Identification Card instead. He was told that to obtain such Oklahoma ID he would need his Social Security card (which had been lost with his wallet). The next destination therefore was to the Social Security office and a long wait get a copy of his card. Instead, that office furnished him an officially stamped letter and told him that it should serve for all purposes until he received his card in the mail in about ten days. So back to the Department of Public Safety with it we went. But once there, DPS would not accept the officially stamped Social Security office letter and my friend was told that he would have to have the actual card instead as well as a certified copy of his birth certificate. I do not hesitate to admit that I was already beginning to become somewhat embarrassed with my home state in witnessing how my black friend was being given the ‘run-around’ treatment. Plus, I had not only already expended quite a lot of my own time but also my own gasoline money during the ridiculous process. But, that was not the least. After spending an additional eighty of my own dollars to fund an expedited request to North Carolina Vital Statistics, receive his certified Birth Certificate by FedEx, and return with it to DPS, my friend was told by DPS that it was still not enough and recommenced the circular process all over again by refusing again to accept the only picture ID he has (his official North Carolina ID), i.e., to obtain an Oklahoma ID one must possess another Picture ID (such as one from another state) which Oklahoma will not accept. If anyone can make sense of this process please let me know. But after having personally experienced being allowed to vote only by Provisional Ballot just last year at the same polling place where I have voted for the previous twenty-two years, I must continue to believe that is designed simply to prevent minorities from voting in the state of Oklahoma. I don’t really want to believe that mine is the same country that I and others have fought and risked our lives for still wants to suppress its citizens. Potential ‘terrorists’; non-existent ‘voter fraud’: subterfuge, not reasons. ‘Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.’ I DO NOT WANT TO BELIEVE IT…PLEASE TELL ME IT ISN’T SO !”  - Vernon L. Jones
Upon my request to send this email to others and some officials of NAACP, Vernon said yes. This is his reply: Yes. You certainly may share the letter to whomever you wish. Unfortunately, my friend is still without an ID. He is at work at this time, and I plan to take him back to DPS in the morning. Will let you know what is the outcome. I certainly believe that NAACP should WANT to become involved with this issue. My friend is surprised and very pleased that people are responding to his difficulty. He is now seeing it as an opportunity to help others who may be facing similar circumstances. He is seeing the power of concerned citizenry for the first time and has expressed that he did not believe such response was either Oklahoma, or his home state of North Carolina. WHAT A TEACHABLE OPPORTUNITY! Mr. Ali A. Canada Oklahoma NAACP Political Action Chair. 918-852-7430
A different incident in Oklahoma City yesterday involving a woman attempting to vote, and being turned away from the polls was investigated. Through misleading news reports, she had been under the impression that there were candidates on the ballot for Democrats in her district to vote for. When she showed up at her local precinct, she was turned away and told that they didn’t have a ballot for her, and that because she’s a Democrat, she “should’ve stayed home.” A call to Oklahoma County Election board confirmed that there were no Democrats running in that district, but that the poll worker “could have worded it differently.”

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