“(You Gotta) Fight! For your right! (To Party!)!” The Beastie Boys
Those were the words the Beastie Boys sang in 1986 and it was a song that I loved to do my best impression of beat-boxing to. Fast forward to 2013 and it isn’t the right to party that most people are going to have to fight for. It will be the right to VOTE.
During President Obama’s second run for office in 2012, there was a huge voter suppression effort brought on by members of the Tea Party and other constituencies (a group with a common goal / outlook) seeking to ensure that President Obama would be a one-term president. Voter suppression is the act of implementing any obstacles to make it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote. Some of the obstacles include things like requiring voters to show identification, providing them with misleading information when they show up to polling stations (the places people go to vote), and allowing very long lines to form hoping to deter to voters. Voter suppression is obviously illegal. Attorney General Eric Holder compared requiring people to show identification prior to voting, to a poll tax or a sum of money paid that allows a person to vote. We know that poll taxes were rendered illegal by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because voting is FREE, but determined groups will always find a way to “fight for their right” to do whatever they feel they should have a right to do.
There is a political and perfectly legal means of determining the outcomes of elections, however. It’s called gerrymandering. The term originated in the Boston Gazette in 1812 along with this political cartoon to poke fun at the intentions of its namesake Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry to support his political party, The Democrat-Republicans. Gerrymandering is the act of changing or altering electoral boundaries in order to provide an unfair political advantage in an election. For example, in some districts, there may be a majority group of younger or older voters. Or, there may be a majority group of voters of a particular racial or economic group. In the event that candidates want to manipulate the outcome of the election, the boundary lines for these districts will be redrawn so that the groups that vote in favor of the candidate or political party are all placed in the same district. When these groups go to the polls to vote, the candidate is pretty certain to gain a victory because he / she has manipulated the demographic, or characteristics, of the voters.
Gerrymandering almost turns politicians into puppet masters. It may appear that they are able to control the voter, but the only control they truly have is over the unregistered voter. The more people who are registered and the more people who vote, the harder it is to control district lines. You have to fight! For your right! To VOTE!
Ms. Ali, I am delighted to learn about your zeal for sharing critical information with the world.
Thank you Dr. Wells for your continued encouragement and for seeing my potential and abilities!
Ms. Zakiyyah Ali Twitter: @DoItGurl Cell: 347-262-7572 “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.’ Frantz Fanon