Nation's Black Leaders Meet In DC For Annual Legislative Conference
Many of the country’s African-American leaders are gathering in Washington for the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual summit, just ahead of the November elections. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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In 2008, African-American voters went to the polls in record numbers to cast their ballots for the nation's first black President. Now, many question whether support for President Obama from his African-American base has waned enough to cost him the election.
That and concerns about new voter ID laws are dominating the debate at this week’s Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual legislative conference.
“This struggle continues and the same type of mentality that would rush there to prevent us from voting yesterday exists today with the same motivation to stop us from voting,” said Rep. Charles Rangel.
The CBC's foundation is the nonprofit arm of the House and Senate's Black caucus. While most conference-goers are Obama supporters, the foundation doesn't formally endorse a candidate.
But with partisanship in Washington at record levels and the GOP making a push to take control of the White House and the Congress in November, many are questioning whether the intent of the new voter ID laws is in fact to cut down on deception at the polls.
“We're saying that there's been no fraud. The Justice Department has established that there's been 0.0003 percent cases of voter fraud, so this is a solution looking for a problem, not a problem looking for a solution,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Lawmakers also used the conference as a call to action for voters, saying that while many of the laws have been enacted, they can still work to ensure that all votes are counted.
“We make sure the rules are fair. And if they’re not, we just don't agonize, we just organize,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Many at the conference say they hope the perceived efforts to disenfranchise voters won’t dissuade supporters of the president from coming out to vote.
“Everybody votes. A non vote for X is a vote for Y. Everybody votes. And so to not vote would be a big mistake,” The Rev. Jesse Jackson said.