Attorney, syndicated radio personality and the self-proclaimed No. 1 truthfighter Warren Ballentine makes it clear the voting rights of disenfranchised Americans are under attack. The recent change and/or passage of Voter ID Laws – laws that require state-issued identification to vote at the polls – in various states across the U.S., have ruffled quite a few feathers.
Widely known for his radio talk show “The Warren Ballentine Show” and his community advocacy, Ballentine wants American voters to understand that the laws are a veiled attempt at voter suppression and an exclusionary campaign to bar the poor from the polls. “This is history repeating itself. They [lawmakers] went back and looked at Reconstruction [Era] and saw [how] we made it into office … they even changed the laws through the criminal justice system, with the vagrancy laws, as my brother Khalil [Gibran] Muhammad talks about all the time. Then, they instituted Jim Crow,” says Ballentine during an Occupy the Vote plenary session at the 2012 National Urban League Conference in New Orleans.
Then-Senator Barack Obama delivers an electrifying speech …
“Fast forward to 2004. They saw a young senator from Illinois speaking at the DNC [Democratic National Convention], and realized this young man would be a problem down the line and they started to calculate what they were going to do. What they did was brilliant and started in Indiana … with citizen corporations – allowing corporations to be viewed as individuals to put as much money as they wanted to into a political campaign. Then, ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] comes into play.”
It’s not a black issue …
“The Voter ID is not just a black or Latino issue, there are many indigent white people in this country too. I give all props in the world to Walmart and Wells Fargo, and all the corporations who backed away from ALEC. We need to tell them to put the same money into voter education that they put in ALEC, so we can get people informed. It’s [Voter ID Laws] about one thing: there’s a black man in the White House. They told you from jump, he [President Barack Obama] would be a one-term president. Rush Limbaugh, Speaker of the House, all of them … let’s be real with this conversation. Yes, we need to occupy the vote.”
What should our next steps be …
One of the things that I tell people all the time, when you talk about voter identification in this country, you can simplify this. Everybody who has ever registered to vote in the past, give them a free ID – whether they voted [in the] last election or 20 years ago.
For a summary of the Voter ID Laws and to learn how you’re affected, click the highlighted words. Also, be sure to search: 2012 Summary of Voting Law Changes for recent updates.