M002 Resolution to Address the Issue of Voter Suppression
Resolution to Address the Issue of Voter Suppression
Whereas, the Christian moral tradition calls all the baptized to the exercise of faithful citizenship; and
Whereas, among the theological principles of faithful citizenship are
- the safe guarding of the dignity of the human person as one made in the image and likeness of God;
- the extension of the common good;
- the care of the vulnerable; and
- the life of solidarity, which is the call to love our neighbor as ourselves and to understand ourselves as our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers; and
Whereas, in our Anglican tradition especially there is embedded in our understanding of the parish church in community the responsibility of the Church even to those who do not claim allegiance to our Church, but who, nonetheless, have a claim upon our ministry; and
Whereas, the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution ensures that the right to vote is not to be “denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous conditions of servitude;”
Therefore be it resolved, that, in fidelity to our moral tradition, and in recognition of the right of all qualified citizens to vote, the 51st Convention of the Diocese of Southeast Florida recognizes the historic significance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting that was further strengthened by the 1975 amendment that explicitly bans any voting practice that had a discriminatory effect, regardless of whether the practice was enacted or operated for a discriminatory purpose; and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention, by adopting this resolution, will be on record supporting reforms that would expand voter registration, increase voter eligibility, and make voting processes more accessible by such measures as:
- implementing automatic voter registration;
- enabling same-day voter registration;
- preparing for natural and man-made disasters that threaten voting access;
- allowing online registration;
- expanding the circle of people who are eligible to vote;
- making it easier to vote by mail;
- enabling no-excuse absentee voting;
- creating long-term mailing lists for absentee voters;
- making voting convenient for people to vote early (i.e., by mail and in person);
- enabling weekend voting and extended hours;
- and, guaranteeing an adequate number of voting locations; and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention calls for the elimination of all statewide Voter ID legislation that has been adopted since the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby Case and more recent decisions: and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention urges the Bishop, working with our General Convention Deputation at the 80th General Convention, and acting through resolution or other appropriate means, to support the passage of resolutions protecting voter rights; and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention directs the Secretary to forward this resolution to the Governor of the State of Florida and our state elected officials with the recommendation that the State of Florida enacts legislation that will protect and expand voters’ rights as outlined in the resolution.
Contact: Rev. Canon Kwasi A. Thornell
Submitted By: The Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton, The Rev. Canon Kwasi A. Thornell, Archdeacon J. Fritz Bazin
Endorsed by: Committee for Racial Healing, Justice and Reconciliation
Social Justice Commission:
Dr. Kathy Latimore, Rev. Horace Ward, Rev. Leslie Hague, Rev. Wilifred Allen-Faiella, Rev. Roberta Knowles, Rev. Dr. Mary Ellen Cassini, Rev. Hal Hurley, Duncan Hurd, Mrs. Juanita Miller, Rev. Jackie Rowe, Rev. Canon Debra Andrew Maconaughey, Rev. Sheila Acevedo Limontas
In the United States, elections are administered locally, and forms of voter suppression vary among jurisdictions. At the founding of the country, the right to vote in most states was limited to property-owning white males. Over time, the right to vote was formally granted to racial minorities, women, and youth. During the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Southern states passed Jim Crow laws to suppress poor and racial minority voters – such laws included poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses. Most of these voter suppression tactics were made illegal after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2013, discriminatory voter ID laws arose following the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which some argue amounts to voter suppression among African Americans.
In Texas, a voter ID law requiring a driver's license, passport, military identification, or gun permit, was repeatedly found to be intentionally discriminatory. The state's election laws could be put back under the control of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Under a previous Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, however, the DOJ expressed support for Texas's ID law. Sessions was accused by Coretta Scott King in 1986 of trying to suppress the black vote. A similar ID law in North Dakota, which would have disenfranchised large numbers of Native Americans, was also overturned.
In Wisconsin, a federal judge found that the state's restrictive voter ID law led to "real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities;” and, given that there was no evidence of widespread voter impersonation in Wisconsin, found that the law was "a cure worse than the disease." In addition to imposing strict voter ID requirements, the law cut back on early voting, required people to live in a ward for at least 28 days before voting, and prohibited emailing absentee ballots to voters.
Other controversial measures include shutting down Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in minority neighborhoods, making it more difficult for residents to obtain voter IDs; shutting down polling places in minority neighborhoods; systematically depriving precincts in minority neighborhoods of the resources they need to operate efficiently, such as poll workers and voting machines; and purging voters from the rolls shortly before an election.
Often, voter fraud is cited as a justification for such laws even when the incidence of voter fraud is low. In Iowa, lawmakers passed a strict voter ID law with the potential to disenfranchise 260,000 voters. Out of 1.6 million votes cast in Iowa in 2016, there were only 10 allegations of voter fraud; none were cases of impersonation that a voter ID law could have prevented. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, the architect of the bill, admitted, "We've not experienced widespread voter fraud in Iowa."