Op-EdOpinion

WILLIAMS: Refreshing the Voter Rolls

With the COVID-19 tragedy, our community has lost so many of our voters who’ve succumbed to the virus. As we grieve their losses, I thought about the untold number of brothers and sisters we’ve lost as voters when they were arbitrarily removed from voter rolls and lost their voting privilege when Republicans raided voter rolls and removed thousands of our people. Not only have we lost potential voters, but we’ve lost many who regularly take the time to publicly support voter registration projects because we are all advised to stay indoors when they would normally be signing up voters.

With that in mind, Bishop Joe Simon, the former R&B genius, and I talked about the terrible impact the coronavirus has had on his carefully laid out plans to personally travel to various of our communities to promote voter registration. As the virus grew worse and public officials began adding more and more time to how long we might still be under “shelter in place” orders, we decided that one way to continue with voter registration would be to develop an online voter registration project. The project was launched through Joe Simon Ministries on Monday, April 6.

We understand that everyone may not know how to use the appropriate online forms since every state differs in its requirements. I serve as president of the National Congress of Black Women whose early leaders included Dr. C. Delores Tucker (founder and former secretary of state of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania) and the incomparable Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Joe and I decided we could do something to register voters since we don’t have the ability to travel to the towns planned.

Members of the National Congress of Black Women agreed to learn each state’s procedures so that we could provide technical assistance to anyone requiring it. The press release we’ve sent reads in part as follows: “If you are not registered to vote, you’ve moved since the last time you voted or changed your name, do the following: Go to https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote; Check Voting and Elections and follow the prompts; If you need help, call Joe Simon’s line at 877-805-8447.

Many people who were concerned about voter registration have volunteered to help. As many of you, no doubt heard when you were growing up, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” You can help in many ways. Call to sign up with registration or if you are not registered and need help registering, just call the Joe Simon National Voter Registration Drive helpline at 877-805-8447.

We have decided that we will not be defeated. In memory and out of respect for the courage of people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; Fannie Lou Hamer, Congressman John Lewis, Dick Gregory, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Ella Baker, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, Amelia Boynton-Robinson, Rosa Parks, Viola Liuzzo, Diane Nash and so many others, let us work to get every potential voter registered. I especially urge our young brothers and sisters to understand the blood, sweat and tears of our people who gave their last full measure — and, for some, their lives — to give all of us the right to vote so that we could make better lives for ourselves and our people. No matter who you liked in the Primaries, let us turn our attention to the general election of Nov. 3, 2020, and be sure that you’ve registered so that you can be counted in that number that says “Thank you” to our heroes and sheroes who had the courage to stand up for our right to vote. Now is not the time to have regrets about staying at home. Help this voter registration effort to succeed.

Williams is national president of the National Congress of Black Women.

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