The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is petitioning the United Nations to investigate alleged disenfranchisement of black and Latino voters in anticipation of next year’s presidential election. According to the NAACP, which issued a report on December 5, 2011 titled Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, more than a dozen states have passed laws aimed at unfairly restricting the constitutionally protected right of black and Hispanic voters to vote.
With the NAACP’s customary race-baiting hyperbole, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous charged:
It’s been more than a century since we’ve seen such a tidal wave of assaults on the right to vote. Historically, when voting rights are attacked, it’s done to facilitate attacks on other rights. It is no mistake that the groups who are behind this are simultaneously attacking very basic women’s rights, environmental protections, labor rights, and educational access for working people and minorities.
William Barber, a member of the NAACP’s national board, said the new state voting laws constituted the “most vicious, coordinated and sinister attack to narrow participation in our democracy since the early 20th century.”
The NAACP is sending its report to the United Nations. This Saturday it will be conducting a “Stand 4 Freedom” rally across from the UN’s New York headquarters. Supporters are being asked to sign an online pledge which asks the United Nations to “investigate and condemn voter suppression tactics in the United States.” The NAACP is also said to be planning to send a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland to present its case before the UN Human Rights Council. What better forum for the NAACP to use to berate and try to embarrass the United States than the dysfunctional United Nations Human Rights Council, where 57.45% of the members are rated “Not Free” or only “Partly Free” by Freedom House?
We don’t have to imagine what this travesty of an international “human rights” organization will do with the report. Members with such stellar human rights records as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Cuba and China will have a field day trying to deflect attention from their own blatant denials of fundamental freedoms to their peoples by turning the United States into a racist oppressor.
Recall that in 2008 Dr. Doudou Diène, who was then the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Racism, went on a UN-paid junket across America to investigate charges of racism in the United States. His information-gathering meetings included officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the far-Left New York Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. He also met with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is the leading advocate on the Supreme Court for using international norms and foreign law to interpret the United States Constitution.
It’s no surprise that the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Racism concluded in his final report that “racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society.” He went on to say that the “historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life of American society.”
The United Nations has no jurisdiction whatsoever to investigate how the sovereign governments of our nation’s fifty states choose to conduct elections in their states, least of all the UN Human Rights Council. Legitimate recourse for any alleged illegal voter restrictions should be through our own courts and political process, not an unaccountable dysfunctional United Nations body.
However, instead of pushing back at UN interference in our nation’s internal matters, the Obama administration has made things worse. It has conferred legitimacy on the Human Rights Council by deciding to submit its own self-examination of the U.S. human rights record to the scrutiny of the other Council members, including its core group of human rights abusers. Who did Hillary Clinton’s State Department consult when preparing the report? Groups such as the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Indeed, the Obama administration provided the NAACP with a convenient passage way to approach the UN body with charges of racism by our nation’s various states when the State Department did its own mea culpa over state immigration laws which the Obama administration vigorously opposes.
Yet when one looks at what the NAACP is actually complaining about, there is more smoke than fire. What we see are mostly good faith efforts of elected officials to foster an honest electoral process in their states, with requirements that are race-neutral.
The following is a table of alleged restrictive voting measures that is included in the NAACP’s report.
Let’s look beyond the NAACP’s loaded characterizations of the restrictions and take a look at some of its specific examples.
One example is Florida’s new requirements regarding third-party registration. The NAACP alleges that such requirements would “place restrictions on nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations that conduct voter registration drives.” What they actually do is to simply require that third-party voter registration organizations register with the Division of Elections and provide the Division with certain information. The Division or Supervisor of Elections then makes voter registration forms available to third-party voter registration organizations and requires that such forms contain certain information identifying that organization. What the NAACP neglects to mention is that the prior law in Florida also required a third-party voter registration organization to name a registered agent in the state and submit certain required information to the Division of Elections. The new law provides for third party organizations to submit their information in electronic format and to turn over applications they collect to the Division or the Supervisor of Elections within 48 hours after the applicant completes the form or the next business day if the office is closed for that 48-hour period.
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