Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) gathered with clergy, council members, civil rights organizations and Maryland Board of Election officials Aug. 29 to discuss the waves of voter law reforms that have popped up in states across America.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, these new changes stand to disenfranchise nearly five million American citizens at the polls.

“Fundamental rights we have as citizens of the United States of America are being attacked. Our precious right to vote and the assurance that our vote will be counted,” said Cummings. “While Maryland does not have restrictive voter I.D. laws, our state is not immune to campaigns to suppress voters in many of our communities this year.”

“Some groups post flyers with intentionally incorrect information about voting days, times, and rules,” said Cummings, adding that in some states, “election observers” are preparing to be present at elections with the sole intention of challenging and intimidating “voters of a certain demographic.”

As late as Aug. 15 of this year laws regarding voter I.D. were still changing, as Pennsylvania Judge Robert Simpson upheld a new law to require voters there to show identification in order to cast a ballot.

Arizona, Ohio, and Virginia have all passed strict non-photo I.D. laws, while states such as Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Michigan have all passed legislation requiring photo I.D.

All of the laws have not been enacted, as some are to be effective this year, and others in 2014.

The veteran congressman stressed the importance of knowing the requirements well before Election Day on Nov. 6.

“Just between 2011 and 2012 there were 180 repressive voting rights bills introduced in 41 states,” said NAACP National Training Director Jessica Pierce. “This is ranging from voter I.D. issues in states like Texas where laws were passed saying you can vote with an expired gun license but not a student I.D.”

The laws do not all focus on voter I.D., as some states, such as Florida, have limited early voting periods and others have cut out Sunday voting, and opportunities for voters to register and vote in the same day.

“As we approach this election the Baltimore City Board of Elections is preparing and we are ready for early voting,” said Baltimore City Board of Elections Election Director Armstead B.C. Jones, Sr. “It starts Oct. 27 and goes through Nov. 1.”

“The pools will open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 to 6 for the voters of Baltimore City.”

The deadline to submit a voter registration application in the state of Maryland is Oct. 16. Those who do not register before 9 p.m. on that day will not participate in the Nov. 6 general election.


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer