Civil and voting rights leaders discuss protection of African American votes in Indiana
Indianapolis, Ind. — Civil and voting rights leaders joined a press call today to discuss how to protect African American votes that are threatened by recent actions from Indiana public officials, including but not limited to the use of law enforcement to shut down the state’s largest voter registration program.
State Representative Stacey Abrams, 89th District of Georgia, said, “My most recent experience with attempts to use state police and registration drives as a tactical wedge to achieve voter suppression was during the New Georgia Project’s 2014 efforts to bridge the 800,000-person gap in voter registration among people of color. Once the New Georgia Project was found to be effective, the Secretary of State began accusing the organization of voter fraud. Un-fortunately, this is a common practice intended to suppress and put a chilling effect on people of color voting. Voter registration drives are critical for engaging communities of color and low income com-munities. Preventing these communities from registering to vote and having their voices heard is dangerous for our democracy and our nation.”
Dr. Ben Chavis, President and CEO of National Newspaper Publishers’ Association and former national President of NAACP, said, “Governor Pence, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, and the Indiana State Police are guilty of violating federal law when it comes to intimidation, harassment, and prevention of African Americans and other minorities registering to vote. We need to make sure nationally that the African American community knows what is going on in Indiana, and we need the Justice Department to intervene. When the state violates federal laws and impedes a civilian’s right to have their voice heard, there needs to be a remedy.”
Chad Dunn, attorney with extensive experience on matters related to voting and civil rights, said, “There used to be a bipartisan spirit by which politicians and leaders recognized that everyone who is able to vote has the right to be heard. Recently, certain individuals are trying to influence the outcome of elections by denying people the right to vote through false accusations of voter registration fraud. The people who run voter registration drives deserve our respect, not criminal accusations. They are soldiers in support of American voices and American rights.”
Ben Jealous, former President and CEO of NAACP, said “What is going on in Indiana should cause great concern to voters across the country. State police have engaged in efforts to intimidate voters and shut down the largest voter registration effort. This is an affront to all Hoosiers, and we cannot, in these times, afford to be silent. Many have chosen to be less vocal this election year, because they do not want to play into Trump’s narrative that the election is rigged. We must make a distinction between Trump’s fanciful talk about rigging and the disenfranchisement that is actually occurring in Indiana. We must call out Governor Pence and the State Police and demand that they respect and protect the civil rights of everyone in their state. Last week’s occurrence is an affront to democracy itself.”
Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, Manager of Legal Mobilization & Strategic Campaigns of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law, said, “As someone who has family in Indiana and spent much of my childhood here, I know that Hoosiers believe in fairness. No eligible voter should be kept from voting. Current estimates say that between 44,000 and 45,000 Hoosiers may be disenfranchised this November and that is unacceptable. We encourage all Hoosiers to make a plan to vote and verify their registration by contacting their local election official or calling 866-OUR-VOTE. Voters must do everything they can to make sure they are registered.”