Posted by Guest on January 17, 2018 in Blog

Screen_Shot_2018-01-18_at_2.23.27_PM.pngBy Mona Ahmed 

“The National Commision for Voter Justice is a people’s commission and will be one that the people can see, understand and participate in.” That’s how Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes described the transparency and mission of the newly formed National Commission for Voter Justice (NCVJ) during a launch rally on the steps of the Supreme Court on January 17. Speakers included: NCVJ Co-Chairs Barbara Arnwine, Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes, John Nichols, Juan Thomas, and Junius Williams and Dr. James Zogby.

A diverse commission comprised of prominent civil rights leaders, voting rights experts, scholars, elected officials, lawyers, and community activist, the NCVJ is a non-partisan commission committed to addressing and crafting a Voter Activation Initiative that highlights, identifies and works to counteract traditional and new state voter suppression efforts. The commission aims to educate and equip voters with the necessary tools to overcome barriers to voting, to study voter turnout in the 21st century, and to examine and implement measures that support increased voter turnout.

Zogby, an NCVJ Member, spoke out about the legacy of voter exclusion among minorities in America stating, “Arab Americans have been excluded from American politics. Candidates would not work with us, would not accept our money and did not want us as an organized community to participate.” He went on to cite big money and lack of minority access to party leadership roles as core issues inhibiting political participation. Through working with the NCJV he plans to better address these issues among others.

Thomas, President of the National Bar Association, echoed Zogby’s commitment to voter justice and commented, “I’m willing to lose an election if everyone voted. If everyone has the right to vote. I do not want to lose an election [because] you worked to keep people from voting….We’re here to make sure that everyone has the right to vote.”  

The NCVJ will kick off  a series of hearings around the country in Detroit on January 27th where they will gather direct accounts from US citizens regarding the barriers they face when voting. Follow their updates and schedule via Facebook/Twitter @NationalCVJ.

Mona Ahmed is a Spring 2018 intern at the Arab American Institute.