By Bishop Peggy Johnson
The United Methodist Women are concerned about Pennsylvania and other states seeking to disenfranchise many voters by the new law that requires an identification card. Gladys Hubbard, a member of Tioga United Methodist Church in Philadelphia and a part of the National United Methodist Women, gave a presentation at a meeting recently in Nashville and was able to obtain the full support of the UMW to mobilize and to help with this issue.
In the United States we have a history of struggling over who has the right to vote. Victories in the past have been won through intense mobilization. Yet today we are seeing a new push to disenfranchise many people through state laws that create multiple hurdles for registering and voting, as well as challenges to the Voting Rights Act itself!
In this election the United Methodist Women believe it is urgent that we defend our democracy and help everyone have the chance to cast a ballot. This is a role that United Methodist Women have played for decades and their call to action is needed now more than ever.
In a UMW Action Alert “Suppression of Voting Rights: A threat to Democracy” we are alerted: “A new surge of state voter ID laws disproportionately impact seniors, students, and peoples of color. About 11% of eligible Americans (21 million) do not have state-issued photo Ids, including 15% of low income voters, 18 % of young eligible voters, 18% of seniors and 25% of African Americans according to The Nation. 13 million adults do not have access to proof of citizenship, which will hinder their efforts to obtain a photo ID.”
I ask you to get involved. Be sure that you are registered and if you have moved recently be sure you have transferred your registration. Join with others such as the NAACP and “Rock the Vote” to help register new voters. Make sure you are still eligible to vote. New ID rules, purges of voting lists and other changes in some states may affect your ability to vote. Do not wait until Election Day. Make sure you have the required ID if necessary, and that your name is still on the rolls. Find out if early voting laws have changed in your area. If you are unable to get to the polls find someone who can assist you or apply early for an absentee ballot.
Stay informed and stay connected. Visit the UMW “Living the Charter for Racial Justice” online community for news and more information regarding Voting Rights 2012: http://racial-justice.umwonline.net. See the VOTE section on the UMW website home page (upper right corner): www.unitedmethodistwomen.org. Join the UMW Facebook community: http://www.facebook.com/UMWomen.
With less than 80 days left before the November election, there is no time to waste.