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In this election every vote counts more than ever. There are 230,000 fewer people registered to vote in Virginia than in 2012; Virginia is a voter suppression state. While voting is a right of citizenship in other states, the simple act of voting has been a difficult hurdle in Virginia for over 100 years resulting from a series of discriminatory laws passed by lawmakers in 1902* and written into the Virginia Constitution, crafted exclusively to deny voting rights to generations of African Americans and others.
People Demanding Action has partnered with the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP, VA Alliance Against Mass Incarceration, Black fraternity and sorority organizations to create a series of Democracy Centers (voter registration, voter information and civic engagement) statewide. We are working together to finally change Virginia’s ugly history of targeted voter disenfranchisement. Our collaboration is called Virginia Register 2 Vote and we officially launch this month.
Large segments of the African-American community in Virginia are now unified in an unprecedented way working to bring thousands of citizens into full civic engagement by registering young people, seniors, women, Returning Citizens (formally called Ex-Offenders) and many others who are not now registered to vote. Additionally we will make sure that people have the required Photo ID, transportation to the polls and ongoing civic engagement.
Previous voter registration efforts have been an ebb and flow based on the election cycle. Virginia Register 2 Vote is an ongoing effort actively working to not only register people to vote for the 2016 Fall election, but also to permanently engage new voters on critical local issues.
We need your support to ensure that we open Democracy Centers throughout the state and empower Virginia voters to overturn the suppression they now face. Your contribution of $5, $10, $25, $50 or more will make a difference in this election and also in our state elections in 2017.
The African American community in Virginia along with very kind and generous donors like yourself from across America are working to ensure Black Votes Really Do Matter in the Old Dominion -- like never before! In 2013 the Governor's race was decided by a 2% margin; the Attorney General race was decided by 165 votes.
*The 1902 Constitution of Virginia (pushed aggressively by Virginia State Senator Carter Glass and others in the Virginia General Assembly) instituted a poll tax and required bulk payment after a voter missed voting in an election. These actions immediately made voting a luxury poor people including many African-Americans could not afford.
Additionally, the Virginia Constitution required voters to pass both a literacy test and a test on the Constitution of Virginia with their performance graded exclusively by white registrars.
When questioned if these measures were potentially discriminatory, Senator Glass very boldly exclaimed, "Discrimination! Why that is exactly what we propose. To remove every negro voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate."
Indeed, the number of African-Americans qualified to vote immediately dropped from 147,000 to 21,000.
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