NAACP Delegation Takes Voting Rights to the UN

This week, the NAACP will send a delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland to present their report entitled “Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America.” They will argue that the new rash of voter ID laws being proposed and enacted in various states across the country violate human and civil rights, suppress the vote, and diminish the quality of democracy.

On a conference call, President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said, “in the past year more states in this country have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than at any point since the rise of Jim Crow.” There are currently 31 states that require voters to show ID before voting, and in 15 of these states the ID must include a photo. Activists have argued these laws disproportionately affect minority racial groups and the poor.

The delegation will not only present the report, but also request actions. They will ask first that the U.N. to investigate the “multiple incursions into minority voting rights by states here in the U.S.,” as described by Jealous, and secondly that the world community be informed of the impact of these laws in order that they are not replicated anywhere else. Jealous added they hope the U.N. will come to the U.S. and see the intent of these laws and offer a recommendation for actions that can be taken. “Their impact is clearly to diminish access to the polls among poor people, and specifically among minority groups,” Jealous said.

The NAACP is not going before the council to complain about the federal government, but rather draw attention to states like Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida that have acted in a “rogue and malicious manner” toward minority voting rights.

Jealous joined longtime civil rights activist and host of MSNBC’s Politics Nation, Reverend Al Sharpton, in recreating the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama earlier this month. Organized by Sharpton’s National Action Network, the march has drawn support congressional leaders, activists, and everyday citizens and culminates with a gathering at the Alabama State Capitol on Friday, March 9th.

This will be the first time since 1947 that the NAACP has gone before the international body to air specific grievances against the U.S. At that time, co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois presented “An Appeal to the World: a Statement on the Denial of Human Rights to Minorities and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress,” which also dealt with the right to vote.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a writer, social commentator and mental health advocate. Visit his official website or follow him on Twitter