HICKS COLUMN: NAACP carding their own voters?
Last week, NAACP branches across the Lowcountry announced election dates for their officers and committee members.
The Charleston and Moncks Corner branches sent news releases to The Post and Courier and The Berkeley Independent, both carrying the same last line:
“In order to vote in a branch election, one must be a member in good standing 30 days prior to the election. A form of identification is required.”
You really can’t make this stuff up.
As most folks know, the NAACP is one of the largest civil rights organizations fighting photo voter-ID laws. It keeps them busy, since more than two dozen Republican-controlled states have tried to pass such laws since a black man was elected president.
So it might be considered a tad hypocritical, as state Sen. Robert Ford says, for the NAACP to use that particular wording for its own election.
“Somebody wasn’t thinking,” Ford says. That’s for sure.
Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch NAACP, picked up on the irony as soon as she saw the wording. “I knew it was going to be fodder,” Scott says.
It’s sort of like if Republicans asked to see Mitt Romney’s birth certificate — something’s not quite right there. Scott says that’s because there’s a big difference.
“Your right to vote in a national election is a civil right,” Scott says. “In order to vote for us, you have to be a member.”
But that very real distinction won’t matter to some folks. And truth is, it just looks bad.
The Rev. Ethel Jefferson, president of the Moncks Corner branch, says if people want to criticize this apparent double standard, they are missing the point of the voter-ID battle.
“When I go to vote, I do have to show ID — my voter registration card,” Jefferson says.
That’s right. Voters already have to show a form of identification. But as of now, voter registration cards don’t have photos on them.
The way these new laws are written, you have to have specific forms of identification, like a birth certificate, just to get a photo ID. The point is to make the process so cumbersome that some people just give up and don’t vote — especially in the upcoming presidential election.
Scott is right, there’s nothing contradictory in the NAACP’s position on photo ID and requiring a membership card to vote in their officer elections.
The unfortunate item in the paper was meant to avoid a problem if a member no one recognizes shows up to vote. Not that that’s usually a problem.
In this regard, it’s just like the voter ID fiasco. “If South Carolina had valid reasons to support what they were doing, people would understand,” Scott says.
But there’s not a reason. Republicans pushing this law can’t document one case of voter fraud. And that doesn’t matter to some folks — just like the NAACP’s distinction here won’t matter. They will only see hypocrisy.
That’s politics: Perception is reality. So the NAACP is just going to have to take its lumps on this one.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.