A national day of action to protest Republican-inspired voting restrictions has been set for December 10, International Human Rights Day. The nationwide protests have been called by a new coalition, the Stand for Freedom campaign.
Backed by the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, 1199-SEIU, the United Federation of Teachers, the National Action Network and others, the Stand for Freedom campaign is calling for a march from the headquarters of Koch Industries to the United Nations.
The Koch brothers have funded voter suppression efforts around the country through their funding of the American Legislative Exchange Council. The council has drafted legislation for Republican lawmakers calling for voter identification cards, ending same day and early voting and preventing ex-felons from voting.
Today such laws are on the books or are pending in 37 states.
The new coalition was announced on the steps of New York's City Hall last week.
At the press conference, Rev. Al Sharpton pointed out that the new restrictions are directly aimed at defeating President Obama in 2012. "They are willing to take away votes in order to take down the president," Sharpton said.
Benjamin Jealous, head of the NAACP, compared the Republican actions to Jim Crow laws enacted overturn the radical reforms enacted during post-Civil-War Reconstruction. "Historically" he said, "far-right-wing extremists have attacked the right to vote in order to make it easier to attack other rights. More than a century ago, they did it to make it easier to help establish segregation. Now they are doing it to make it easier to attack women's rights, environmental protections, immigrants' rights, equal opportunity programs, LGBT rights, and workers' right to organize."
Congressman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., compared the Koch-backed GOP voting limits to the "KKK without hoods". The problem, he said, "is not just for blacks, this is for the country."
Jealous in particular emphasizes that the fight is winnable, underlining the importance of the Nov. 8 victory in Ohio defeating Issue 2, a win greatly assisted by an earlier defeat of voter identification schemes: "In Ohio," Jealous writes, "the historic victory defending workers' right to organize likely would not have been possible if a coalition of labor and civil rights groups - that included the NAACP and NAACP National Voter Fund - had not first blocked the state's misguided voter ID bill."
Last week, according to the Associated Press, House Democrats asked secretaries of state in all 50 states to help prevent new voter identification laws.
Mississippi passed a voter identification initiative last week.