NAACP Puts Voter ID Laws in Crosshairs

Before a South Carolina rally, its president told The Root of plans to fight the laws and educate young black voters.

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"Our biggest battle to stop suppression with voter ID bills is in two places. One is where bills have already passed: Texas, South Carolina and so forth," he said. "The other part of the strategy is to fight the legislative battles in states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, where bills are pending, and in North Carolina, where the legislature has threatened to override the governor's veto of a voter ID bill.

"We'll engage in very aggressive voter registration and identification drives designed to further expand the electorate," Jealous said. "We'll make sure that those who need voter IDs get them."

One novel NAACP outreach initiative will seek out the youngest voters where they live. Literally.

"We'll be mailing a voter registration form to every black kid in the nation who's turned 18 since November 2010 or who will be 18 by November 2012," Jealous said. "At 18 they still see voting as a part of a rite of passage, and about 600,000 black kids turn 18 every year." He estimated that as many as 1.2 million younger African-American voters could be reached this way.

"Dr. King fought and died to make sure that our democracy is inclusive," Jealous said. "It's been almost 50 years since Medgar Evers was assassinated. The reality is that many people have died in many of our lifetimes to secure these votes. We fought in 2011; we won in some places, we lost in some places. We'll continue fighting as aggressively as possible."

Michael E. Ross is a regular contributor to The Root and the author of American Bandwidth, on the Obama campaign and presidency.

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