It is time that the American people hear from more than just us that there is a concerted effort across this country to limit, to suppress, and to undo our right to vote. It is deliberate and it is by design. From Ohio to Wisconsin down to Florida, across Texas…the franchise is under attack today in this country.
A certain predetermined segment of Americans are being targeted: young people, the elderly, our disabled, our minorities will all feel the repercussions of this concerted effort. There’s nothing new about the tactics that we are seeing today if you’ve lived at least as long as I have lived. These are the tactics that have been used for years to compromise the franchise. What we call the poll tax fifty years ago is now having to buy a voter I.D. card today. Legislation passed or proposed in the state of Ohio, which is my home, and a number of other states has ended Sunday voting. Now think about it. Ohio’s Republican legislature has voted to reduce not only Sunday voting, but voting early from what currently was 35 days a year ago down to 16 days.
In 2008, African-American voters accounted for 22 percent of early votes and 31 percent of Sunday voters. Latinos accounted for 22 percent of Sunday voters. Minorities who work long hours all week and don’t get time off need the flexibility that early voting and Sunday voting provide. On Saturdays and Sundays before Election Day, people of faith across the country remind their parishioners to vote, but those who are orchestrating this voter suppression effort know full well the importance of early voting and Sunday voting. They know that minorities in particular will be disproportionately impacted by these laws.
I was among those who fought Ohio’s voter suppression bill, which is house bill 194. Now because of our effort voters will cast a vote to decide whether or not 194 will become law. I also fought Ohio’s voter photo I.D. law. We put so much pressure on our legislature that they decided to delay moving forward with the legislation. Along with my colleagues, I have remained active and vigilant here by introducing legislation, organizing press conferences—of which some of you have joined me—and house speeches at the request of our whip. I will continue to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves because we cannot afford to be silence.
I will end with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said that "the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy". We are indeed in times of challenge and controversy. The underrepresented and those who have traditionally been disenfranchised are once again under attack. I thank you for your work and look forward to your testimony.