The Kansas City Congressman who leads the Congressional Black Caucus says the American voting public has come under attack. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says African Americans were naive to think there would not be a backlash from the 2008 election in which the Latino and Black turnout was the highest ever, and the percentage of African Americans who voted matched the percentage of white voter turnout.
He says those who worked so hard forty years ago never would have predicted that African Americans would be fighting efforts to suppress or to discourage minority voting power. “We’ve had 176 restricted bills regarding voting that have been proposed in 41 states…Understand that we cannot even find an instance of voter fraud. In the last twenty-some years the Justice Department has investigated, like, two. Why should there be such an effort to deter black voting power?” he asked the caucus’ annual legislative conference. .
Cleaver says he’s heard an estimate that “block the vote” efforts, such as the voter photo-ID bills proposed in Missouri, could keep five million African Americans from voting–enough to alter the outcomes of elections nationwide.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is launching a nationwide voter registration drive this week that will put special focus on areas represented by black members of Congress.