Excerpts from NAACP Panel at United Nations: “Voting Rights and People of Color in the U.S.”

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Voting in 1945
-America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization leads panel on attempts to restrict the right to vote-

(Geneva) – Leaders of the NAACP testified today in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. They described how a wide range of new legislation threatens to prevent millions of Americans, particularly people of color, from exercising their right to vote. Excerpts from the panelists’ testimony are below:

Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP National Board Chairman: “As of December 2011, 14 U.S. states passed 25 measures designed to restrict or limit ballot access of voters of color, threatening to disenfranchise millions of eligible Americans. Furthermore, since January 2012 additional states have introduced measures that, if enacted, would result in the disfranchisement of even more racial and ethnic minorities.”

Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President and CEO: “We are here today because in the past 12 months more US states have passed more laws pushing more US citizens out of the ballot box than in any year in the past century. Historically, when people have come after our right to vote, they have done so to make it easier to come after so many of our other rights that we hold dear.”

Ryan Haygood, NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund: “These restrictions on the right to vote are a direct response to two developments: unprecedented levels of political participation of black voters in the United States in 2008, and a reaction to the significant growth of communities of color as reflected in the 2010 census.”

Kemba Smith Pradia, Author & Advocate for the rights of formerly incarcerated people: “I struggle with the fact that as of today I cannot vote in Virginia because this is where my offense occurred. But in other states I wouldn’t have to deal with this issue. It is as if other states understand the need for forgiveness and the right of citizens to not be isolated from the rest of the population because they have been denied this human right.”

Austin Alex, Student Texas Christian University: “I’m here to speak on behalf of the thousands of students in Texas who will be impacted by new voter ID laws. Other states have passed similar laws that no longer allow student id to be an acceptable form voter identification. I am concerned about the impact this will have on the right of students like me to vote.”

Hilary Shelton, NAACP Senior Vice President for Advocacy: “These forms of disenfranchisement prevent those most in need of an advocate from the ability to elect someone who will represent their concerns: the need for a decent public education, for a health care system that addresses their specific demographic needs, as well as the creation of decent jobs, a functional criminal justice system and other basic human needs.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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