The Fight is Not Over!
SCOPE50.org September 2016
Early Voting Begins
Early voting began last week in North Carolina. A number of states offer the opportunity for voters to cast a ballot before Election Day. This can be done in three different ways. (1) Early voting: In 37 states and D.C. qualified voters may cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to Election Day. No excuse or justification is required. (2) Absentee voting: In 27 states and D.C., any qualified voter is permitted to vote absentee without offering an excuse. In 20 states, an excuse is required in order to vote absentee. (3) Mail voting. Three states mail ballots to all eligible voters for every election. Other states may provide this option for some types of elections. It is important that you check your state requirements, because they differ from state to state. For example, in North Carolina people can vote early during a certain period of time. Whereas South Carolina may not have early voting, but it does have absentee voting where people can vote an absentee ballot in person if they meet certain qualifications.
As we know, some states – mostly in the South – have put up obstacles which make it more difficult for people, particularly minorities, to vote. Following are some excerpts from a statement that Congressman John Lewis recently made: "Voting rights are under attack in America. Quietly, gradually, state-by-state, the right to vote – a right that many people died to secure – is being taken away. Today, we should be making it easy, simple, and convenient to vote. Instead, legislatures around the nation are creating barriers and making it more difficult for citizens to vote. There is not just one law, but many types of laws that are disenfranchising millions of voters: voter photo identification laws, proof of citizenship laws, barriers to registration, elimination of early voting and absentee voting, and laws making it harder to restore voting rights for people who have paid their debt to society. These laws are a barrier to an inclusive democracy. We are stepping backward toward another dark time in our history. We cannot separate the dangerous trend across this nation from our history and the struggle for the right to vote. Before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, not so very long ago, it was almost impossible for some citizens to register and vote. Many were harassed, jailed, beaten, and some were even killed for trying to participate in the democratic process. The vote is the most powerful, non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. We must not allow the power of the vote to be neutralized. We must never go back."
During the last few weeks there have been some victories as appellate courts have struck down some of these laws. In South Carolina we are going into high schools and registering junior and senior high school students and giving them the information they need to vote. Please let us know what you are doing in your states so that we can share it with the SCOPE50 folks.
Boots on the Ground
SCOPE50 has boots on the ground in a few states in the South. We are in Alabama, South Carolina and we hope to soon be in southern North Carolina. We also have boots on the ground in Rhode Island. We are looking to expand voter registration and the get-out-the-vote effort as we partner with other organizations. For example, in South Carolina we have partnered with the Charleston County Library, and we hope to do this in Beaufort and Dorchester counties as well. In Rhode Island we have partnered with the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island, which has shared the following with all their churches.
Fifty years ago the Summer Community Organization for Political Education (SCOPE) program was envisioned and championed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a means to encourage people of good will to travel to the South and help register African-Americans to vote. Hundreds of volunteers from around the country answered Dr. King's call. Remembering that powerful movement, SCOPE50 is a renewed opportunity to band together to promote and encourage voter registration nationally.
Rev. John Reynolds, retired ABC minister, who previously pastored in Rhode Island writes to invite American Baptists in Rhode Island to participate in this grassroots "get out the vote" effort. For more information on SCOPE50, click here.
We are also in discussion with other faith groups. Let us know what you are doing.
SCOPE50 Public Service Announcement
A 30-second PSA will be going out this week to nationally syndicated radio programs, such as the Tom Joyner show, the D. L. Hughley show, and others. We also plan to target some local stations, such as WVFG-FM ("Your connection to the Blackbelt") in Uniontown, Alabama. The PSA can be used in your local community to encourage voter registration.
A copy of the PSA audio file is attached to the e-mail along with this Newsletter.
"With MLK and the Voting Rights Effort"
Those of you who attended the Reunion last year remember Lanny Kaufer's excellent multimedia presentation. He has recently turned this into an 8-week course, which is offered by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a branch of the Extended University of Cal State University, Channel Islands.
Course Description: "In 1965 soon after the Selma to Montgomery March, college freshman Lanny Kaufer, imbued both with confidence and naiveté, volunteered as a foot soldier in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Voting Rights Campaign known as the Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) Project. This teacher-songwriter-musician-activist will present a multimedia account of his experiences in the SCOPE voter registration civil rights initiative, providing an historical context of the Civil Rights Movement before, during, and following the tumultuous 1960s." To learn more, visit Lanny's website: http://civilrightsvet.com/event/8-week-olli-course-with-martin-luther-king-jr-and-the-voting-rights-effort/
(Thanks to all of you for letting me know what you are doing to spread the word. Please continue to send me information that can be shared with other SCOPE50 folks.)
T-shirts now available
The SCOPE50 t-shirts are now available (see next page) and can be ordered from me. The price is $15.00. Let me know how many shirts you want, and the sizes. Your check should be made out to SCOPE50 and mailed to 773 Spinnaker Beachhouse, Seabrook Island, SC 29455. This is just another way that we can earn a little money.