The AFL-CIO and several Latino civil rights organizations launched a campaign Tuesday against laws that restrict the vote and announced that they will intensify their efforts to get new voters registered.
"This year we will be running the strongest voter protection program ever. This will be our most aggressive push, and we have never done anything on this scale before because the attacks that we are seeing on the right to vote are unprecedented," AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said at a press conference in Washington.
In recent years, numerous states have approved laws and regulations that increase identification requirements for those seeking to register to vote, as well as demanding proof of identity and place of residence when it comes time to vote.
Though no proof exists that voter fraud is a real problem, promoters of this addition to ID requirements say that the purpose is to defend the legitimacy of the vote.
After the founding of the republic when voting was the exclusive right of white men who owned property, the right was extended first to men without property and then to blacks in the 19th century, though African Americans in the South were effectively denied the franchise until the 1960s.
In the 20th century the right to vote was extended to women, while the most recent expansion of the right to vote occurred three decades ago when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.
"In the last 12 months more states have enacted voter suppression laws than at any time since the post-Civil War period," NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous said at Tuesday's press conference.
Holt Baker said that there are 2.3 million union members nationwide who are not registered to vote, and announced that the AFL-CIO will concentrate its efforts on Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada, and will collaborate with other organizations in spreading this campaign across the rest of the country.
The goal is to raise to 75 percent the proportion of union members registered to vote, she said.
Clarissa Martinez de Castro, director of civic engagement for the National Council of La Raza, pointed out that Latinos make up "a young population, and 75 percent of Hispanics are United States citizens."
At the same press conference in the AFL-CIO headquarters, Carmen Berkley, deputy director of the Generational Alliance, spoke of "a generation of 46 million people who have grown up in the Internet age and are constantly updated on what is happening."
"This year 16.8 million people are turning 18 and we are going to make sure that every one of them is informed about what is happening, and that all of those 16.8 million vote," Berkley said. EFE