ATLANTA – On Thursday, October 3, the NAACP led a People’s Hearing on Voting Rights in Atlanta. Georgia voters had an opportunity to share their experiences with voter infringement in recent elections. The hearing also shed light on unfair and racially discriminatory practices in Georgia that make it harder for communities of color to exercise their fundamental right to vote.
NAACP Georgia State Conference President Phyllis Blake opened the hearing by saying “Today we are here to discuss the ways our votes are being suppressed in Georgia. The four main ways are 1) aggressive voter purges, 2) rejection of vote by mail application, 3) legislation intended to undermine third party registration drives in communities of color and 4) polling place closures and consolidation.”
A Multiracial Voting Rights Panel took place at the hearing. Moderated by NAACP National Political Director, Sheila E. Isong, panelists discussed what the community is currently doing to fight voter suppression and answered questions from the audience. Panelists included:
- Hillary Li, Staff Attorney, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
- Clint Odom, SVP of Policy & Advocacy and Executive Director of the Washington Bureau, Urban League
- Nse Ufot, Executive Director, New Georgia Project
- Aylett Colston, Chair – Political Action, Raleigh-Apex NAACP
When asked what the most important voting rights issues is today, Hillary Li said “Language access is one of the most pressing issues we need to focus on, just because you don’t speak English fluently doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to vote an informed ballot.” Clint Odom stated that funding is another prominent issue. He said “we need to properly fund elections in this country. Our voting machines are subject to be compromised. These problems can be fixed with investment in our election infrastructure.”
“Movements don’t start with a crowd. Movements start with a few people who believe that the impossible is possible,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson during his closing remarks. “It is our job to show the crowd that what they think is impossible, is actually possible.”
This was the final hearing in a nationwide series of convenings conducted by the W.K. Kellogg Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative to uplift challenges faced by voters and complementing Congressional “Listening Sessions” hosted by the U.S. Committee on House Administration. The stories shared at this hearing and others will be showcased on the digital platform WeVoteWeCount.org, and will be submitted to the Congressional Record this summer.