By C.C. Campbell-Rock
Two weeks ago, LeBron James stepped up to launch the biggest civil rights campaign launched by athletes since Colin Kaepernick took a knee in 2016 to protest police brutality. James’ campaign, More Than A Vote, is designed to fight the insidious voter suppression that has been going on since the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were instituted to give African-Americans the right to vote.
“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James told the NYT on June 11, when announcing the campaign. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”
The campaign is right on time. The debacle in Kentucky, where this week 600,000 predominately black voters were packed into one polling site and Wisconsin and Georgia elections, where voters waited for hours to vote, is proof positive that Republicans, led by Donald Trump, are pulling in-your-face voter suppression tactics to get him and themselves reelected.
In Louisiana, African-American voters have to know that the state has built-in voter suppression tricks. For example, there are three elections coming up.
A cursory look at the Secretary of State’s website sends a viewer all over the site to gather information on the first two elections which have been postponed and reset. Early voting, unlike election day voting has different hours than Election Day voting, and if you are registering to vote for the first time, you must register 30 days in advance before the election you want to vote in. That means, if you haven’t registered by now, you won’t be voting in the July 11 Presidential and Municipal Primaries.
Also, even though the state put an emergency absentee ballot in place for those who have the coronavirus or has been exposed, you have to file an application to get an absentee ballot. And although your application is due in three to four days before the election, there is nothing on the website that indicates how much time the state has to send you the absentee ballot. Technically, you can file an application but not receive a ballot in time to have your vote counted.
In Louisiana, the Presidential Preference Primary and Municipal Primary and State Representative, 54th Representative District Special Election are set for July 11, 2020; the Municipal General Election is set for August 15, 2020, and the Presidential Election is set for November 3, 2020. July 11, 2020
Early voting for the Saturday, July 11, election takes place from June 20, 2020 – July 3, 2020 (excluding Sunday, June 21, 2020 and Sunday, June 28, 2020) 8:30 am-6:00 pm, and early voting for the Saturday, August 15, 2020 election will be held July 25, 2020 – August 8, 2020 (excluding Sunday, July 26, 2020 and Sunday, August 2, 2020), 8:30 am-6:00 pm. https://www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/Vote/VoteEarly
On the days of the Elections, polling sites will be opened from 7:00 am – 8 pm.
In Orleans Parish, the presidential candidates, and candidates for the Democratic Parish Executive Committees (DPEC); the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC), and the Republican Parish Executive Committee (RPEC), and Judge, 1st City Court, Section B. races are on the July 11 ballot.
Candidates for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Criminal, Constable, Associate Justice, Louisiana Supreme Court, District 7, Juvenile, Traffic, Municipal, Civil District Court and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, Public Service Commission, and Orleans Parish School Board are on the November 3, ballot. The Open General and Congressional Election is December 5.
All elections are important but the President, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and the District Attorney can directly impact our lives. U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy and Representatives Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond’s seats are on the ballot.
The District Attorney’s office can help reform Louisiana’s disgraceful criminal justice system. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country, and Louisiana has the second-highest number of prisoners in America.
Voters must choose an Associate Justice for the Louisiana Supreme Court-District 7. Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson, the first African-American and first African-American woman to hold the highest position on court, who represents District 7, is retiring in December 2020.
Of equal importance, voters should check the to see if their polling place has been moved. In 2018, the State of Louisiana eliminated 100 polling sites.
In Orleans Parish, the following polling sites have been moved: Mater Dolorosa Church Basement Ward 17 Pct. 2-7, Woldenberg Village Ward 15, Pct.14G, Nazareth Inn Ward 09 Pct. 44A, Guste High Rise, Ward 02, Pct.04. Voters who voted at those polling places are supposed to be notified about the new polling places.
Do you know if you’re still on the voting rolls? Check the Inactive Voters List, to see if you’ve been purged from the rolls. https://www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/Pages/InactiveVoters.
Voting is a sacred right; for which many African-Americans died. Given the political climate facing African-Americans today, if they want to see justice served, the path is this: 1. Make demands 2. Vote for the candidate that has an agenda that includes your demands and vote out those who don’t 3. Hold all elected officials accountable.