GOP voter suppression fueled Black turnout

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by Roland Martin

(CNN)—In Florida, Republicans stopped allowing early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, with no explanation as to why. In 2008, black churches marched a massive number of congregants to the polls, led by their slogan, “Souls to the Polls.” The GOP clearly didn’t want to see that happen again.

RolandMartin
ROLAND MARTIN

Obstacles like these rekindled the feeling among many African-Americans of the tactics enacted during the civil rights movement to keep blacks from voting. So pastors, deacons and laymen pushed and prodded their members to cast absentee ballots, and pushed hard for their members to stand in lines that during the early voting period can last as long as eight hours.

In Ohio, activists hit the salons, barbershops, recreation centers and churches to rally voters to do their civic duty. Black radio stations were enlisted in the battle to protect the sanctity of the ballot.

Even when the networks were calling the election for President Obama on Tuesday, Florida residents were still standing in line to vote, some places in the rain, doing their part to push back.

According to NAACP president and CEO Ben Jealous, the organization registered 432,000 voters, a 350% increase over 2008.

The president’s reelection wasn’t about one group over another being the deciding factor. It was a collection of voters from varied backgrounds that made the difference. But the GOP should recognize and accept that its voter suppression tactics were not only roundly defeated, but were decimated.

It was the late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer who famously said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Black voters, and others, were sick and tired of the GOP trying to keep their votes from being cast by passing onerous laws, and they responded in an amazing way, matching the historic turnout of 2008, and bringing to life the civil rights anthem, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.”

(Editor’s note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of “The First: PrSuch decisions, frankly, ticked off Black activists, politicians, and civil rights groups to the point their voter registration campaigns went into overdrive. I talked to officials in multiple states, and the anger could be heard in their voices. Social media played a role as every new voter suppression effort was exposed, setting off a litany of complaints.)

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