- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Next week, the NAACP is taking the unusual step of bringing a complaint to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva over voter identification laws, passed in several states, which they say constitute voting rights violations. As William Douglas reports, this isn’t a new tactic for the group:
The Geneva appearance is part of an NAACP strategy rooted in the 1940s and 1950s, when the group looked to the United Nations and the international community for support in its domestic battle for civil rights for blacks and against lynching.
"It was in 1947 that W.E.B. Dubois delivered his speech and appealed to the world at the U.N.," NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said Thursday. "Now, like then, the principal concern is voting rights. The past year more states in this country have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than any point since Jim Crow."
The changes in question this time around are new laws that would require photo identification or proof of citizenship before people cast ballots, as well as proposals to eliminate same-day voter registration and rescind the voting rights of convicted felons who have served their time. The NAACP says these laws are restrcition similar to the poll taxes and literacy tests that once prevented blacks from voting in U.S. elections.
Of course, UNHCR resolutions don’t carry legal weight in the United States, but Jealous is looking to make a global statement.
Some more background on the NAACP’s 1947 U.N. effort here.