In case you haven’t been paying attention, Republican lawmakers and even a few right-leaning Democrats have been brazenly passing laws that restrict American citizens’ voting rights. Since 2010, 14 states have passed a total of 19 laws that would require voters show specific identification like proof of citizenship, eliminate same-day registration or extend residency laws, among other things. All told, an estimated 5 million Americans have had their voting rights curtailed, according to the Brennan Center of Justice.
And as you could have guessed most of these people are either elderly, ex-cons, of color, poor or young — populations that all lean Democratic.
Hoping to set things right — or at least expose the GOP’s dirty tricks — NAACP president Ben Jealous and his colleagues are asking UN officials to come stateside and monitor the November elections. Then they can tell the world how American conservatives have infringed on people’s rights.
A request for UN ballot measuring is something we’re more used to seeing in war-torn transitioning nations or legendarily corrupt lands, not in the U.S. of A. But Jealous says the stakes are just too high to let the GOP slide.
“In the past year, more states have passed more laws, pushing more voters out of the ballot box, than at any point since the rise of Jim Crow,” he said. “In these hyper-partisan times in the U.S., we believe it is important for [the UN] to weigh in on what is happening here in our democracy. Our democracy is precious, not just to the citizens of this country but to the world.”
Jealous knows of course that the UN can’t do anything about the U.S. laws, but he thinks the negative publicity will shame politicians who wrote the restrictive laws.” Shame alone is effective. The US, and individual states within the US that have introduced these laws, have a vested interest in maintaining the opinion that we are the world’s leading democracy,” he said.
The NAACP’s UN request, which the Guardian reports will be formally delivered in Geneva next week, is political theater at its best. They are performing political activism on a grand stage. They’re using the means at their disposal to both raise awareness and publicly disgrace lawmakers who derail open democracy. Sure, the NAACP isn’t as funny as master political performer Stephen Colbert, but they’re just as necessary.
Here’s a roundup of recent voting-related legislation, via Brennan: