As a political scientist, during any given election year, I’m bombarded with questions about my assessment of the current electoral slate. The look of disappointment is always palatable when I tell folks that, that isn’t what I do. After all, what good is a black political scientist that doesn’t study black public opinion?
As a scholar, one of the things I’ve struggled with is pushing back against the dominance of voting based politics within black communities in our post-civil rights era, without minimizing the importance of showing up at the polling booth. After all, in a midterm election year, just like in presidential years, whether or not our communities show up can be a make or break for the services and programs that are desperately needed for our communities. Continue reading →
While the public at large is asked to celebrate a very Eurocentric account of history as relates to the Native American population, we’d like to invite you to take a look at the perspective shared in this documentary, available online thanks to The Internet Archive:
Narrated by Peter Coyote, this film is OSCAR-nominated, EMMY-winning, filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman’s latest documentary. “RECLAIMING Their VOICE” follows Native Americans in New Mexico taking a stand against injustice in the political process. Personal stories demonstrate how minority communities are using their voting rights as they participate more fully in elections. These stories capture a microcosm of growing awareness and activism which is taking root across the United States. In addition to documenting the Native American suffrage movement historically, the film follows a groundbreaking project led by the Laguna, NM Native community. Their efforts lead to significant positive changes in New Mexico state election law. This story serves as a model for how other minority populations throughout the U.S. can work together to make sure they can cast their votes and that their votes will be counted.
This film documents:
The Pueblo Revolt (1680)
Wounded Knee (1890)
The Sacred Alliance for Grassroots Equality’s fight to protect
The sacred art of the Petroglyph National Monument
The Pueblo of Laguna’s 500 Voter Project
The passage of legislation to ensure greater election security for Native Americans
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
If you’ve taken part in early voting so far this year, it’s likely you’ve run into extremely long lines or “nonpartisan observers,” both tactics specifically targeting communities of color, as was the decision to curtail or derail early voting in states like Ohio, which Sen. Nina Turner (D-OH) ably summed up here:
As we enter the home stretch of the presidential campaign, there’s a steady stream of media discussions of potential turnout and differences in early voters and those who vote on Election Day, analysis of the demographics of swing states, and a flood of campaign materials and phone calls aimed at both winning us over and convincing us to actually go vote (those of you not living in swing states may be blessed with less of this).
So who does vote? And how many of us do so?
Demos.org recently released a report on voting rates and access among Native Americans. It contains a breakdown of voting and voter registration by race/ethnicity for the 2008 presidential election. That year, about 64% of all adults eligible to vote in the U.S. did so, but the rates varied widely by group. White non-Hispanics and African Americans had the highest turnout, with every other group having significantly less likely to vote. Half or less of Asians, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Hispanics voted:
For every group, the vast majority of those who register do go on to vote. But significant numbers of people who have the right to vote aren’t registered to do so, and even among registered voters (the darkest blue columns), turnout is higher among White non-Hispanics and African Americans than other groups. This could reflect lack of interest in or enthusiasm for the election or the candidates but likely also reflects structural and organizational differences–from poverty to the lack of concerted efforts by campaigns to make voting easier by providing shuttles to the polls and otherwise getting out the vote in these communities.
We hope the logo hasn’t thrown you off, Racializens. It’s our big reminder that Jarreth Merz’s documentary on Ghana’s 2008 election, An African Election, premieres next Monday, October 1, on PBS’ WORLD Channel. The movie begins at 8:30PM.
We’re also thrilled by the pre-premiere panel line-up! Scheduled to appear are:
They will discuss the parallels between the voting issues that faced Ghana during that momentous election and the voting issues that marginalized, disenfranchised people are facing in the US during this presidential election. The panel starts at 8PM on on the same night and channel.
To gear up for the Big Night, we’re having a tweet-up–our last, alas–today at 11AM EDT (4PM in Ghana). Our guest tweeter is Ghanaian feminist Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, who works as the Communications Officer at African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and co-runs the incredible blog Adventures From The Bedrooms Of African Women, a which collectively gathers information and discusses safer-sex practices and sexuality with African women and progressive African men. She’ll give her on-the-ground perspective on whether Ghana’s 2008 election affected the lives of women in the nation.
It all came down to Tain. In An African Election, the results of the 2008 were decided based on multiple run-off votes. Each time, the paper ballots were painstakingly counted and verified, and there was much discussion about not disenfranchising the elderly and those who did not have formal identification.