PDA Voter Suppression Show #2:
Restoring Democracy – Voting After a Criminal Conviction with Andrea Miller and Rev. Terence Dicks
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Time: 1pm EST
Call In: (347) 202-0385
Voting is both a fundamental right and a civic duty.
However there remains one significant blanket barrier to the franchise: 5.85 million American citizens are not allowed to vote because of a criminal conviction.
As many as 4.4 million of these people live, work, and raise families in our communities, but because of a conviction in their past they are still denied the right to vote.
Felony disenfranchisement laws in the United States are deeply rooted in the troubled history of American race relations, and the disproportionate racial impact of these laws continues to this day.
Nationwide, 13% of African-American men have lost the right to vote, a rate that is seven times the national average.
Given current rates of incarceration, three in ten of the next generation of African-American men across the country can expect to lose the right to vote at some point in their lifetime – Brennan Center for Justice
Show: Restoring Democracy – Voting After a Criminal Conviction with Andrea Miller and Rev. Terence Dicks
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Time: 1pm EST
Call In: (347) 202-0385
Our guests work to assist people with convictions in their past to regain their citizenship through restoration of their voting rights:
Myrna Pérez – Brennan Center for Justice
Senior Counsel, Democracy Program
Ms. Pérez works on a variety of voting rights related issues, including redistricting, voter registration list maintenance, and access to the ballot box.
Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman & Dane, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Pérez graduated from Columbia Law School in 2003, where she was a Lowenstein Public Interest Fellow.
Following law school, Ms. Pérez clerked for the Honorable Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Ms. Pérez earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Yale University in 1996.
She obtained a masters degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1998, where she was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service.
Prior to law school, she was a Presidential Management Fellow, serving as a policy analyst for the United States Government Accounting Office where she covered a range of issues including housing and health care.
In Oct. 2012, Kemba Smith got her voting rights restored after a long struggle.
She is a national motivational speaker, author, and criminal justice advocate.
She was sentenced to 24.5 years in prison for conspiracy to participate in her boyfriend’s drug activities.
At the age of 24, Kemba Smith paid the price for loyalty, dearly.
In 1994, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine for her boyfriend’s drug activities, Kemba, 7 months pregnant at the time, was sentenced to 24.5 years in prison with no possibility of parole.
Although Kemba had no prior criminal record, mandatory minimum sentencing laws have made her and an increasing number of women casualties of excessive punishments that do not fit their crimes.
Kemba, raised in a protective, middle-class community near Richmond, Virginia, had spent the previous four years in an abusive relationship with Peter Hall.
In 1989, Kemba had met Hall as a 19-year-old sophomore at Hampton University.
He was eight years her senior and unbeknown to Kemba, the leader in a $4 million crack cocaine ring and one of the FBI 15 Most Wanted.
Their relationship was a tumultuous one. Kemba would end up making several unsuccessful attempts to leave Hall who abused her physically and emotionally.
When Hall was discovered murdered, the government held Kemba accountable for the total amount of the drugs in his drug conspiracy charge.
Edgardo Cortés – Advancement Project
Edgardo Cortés serves as the Director of the Virginia Voting Rights Restoration Campaign for Advancement Project.
He has worked in elections for more than 10 years, with experience in all facets of the electoral process including campaigns, non-partisan voter registration, federal election policy, and local and state election administration.
Prior to joining Advancement Project, he worked for the Virginia State Board of Elections where he was responsible for updating the state’s Help America Vote Act state plan and Voting System Certification program.
He has previously served as General Registrar for Fairfax County, Virginia, responsible for administering elections in the largest county in Virginia.
Edgardo also worked for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), serving as the Grants Director and as Deputy Director for Policy.
He was responsible for all federal policy related to the National Voter Registration Act and spearheaded the creation of the EAC’s Language Accessibility Program.
Edgardo has managed national non-partisan voter registration drives and Congressional field campaigns.
Edgardo holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Masters degree in political management from the George Washington University.
He lives in Springfield, Virginia with his wife and son.
Linwood Christian – Restoration Activist
Like thousands of African-American men, Linwood had a previous drug conviction. When he applied to have his rights restored in Virginia, he was denied because of moving violations.
After waiting two years, he again applied only to be told by the Commonwealth to “write an essay and describe his church activities.”
Linwood joined other PDA activists in Washington, DC where we hand-delivered a copy of the “church activities” letter to every Virginia Congress member.
A few days later Virginia announced a new and improved streamlined procedure for restoration of voting rights.
Linwood has regained his voting rights and continues to help other community members restore their voting rights.
PDA is supported solely by our members; please consider donating to PDA so that we can continue to provide this type of programming.
If you missed our last show, Voter Suppression – What’s Happening In Your State and What You Can Do About It, you can listen to it here or view it here:
Voter suppression and racism is alive and well in America but we can fight this machine by registering to vote, voting early and fighting Voter ID laws.
“OneNation – Protecting the Vote” with Andrea Miller on Blog Talk Radio
Show #1 “OneNation – Protecting the Vote” with Andrea Miller and Terence Dicks on Blog Talk Radio
Andrea Miller, Deputy Field Director, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)
“Holding elected office is a privilege – voting is a right”
Rev. Terence A. Dicks, PDA Southern Organizer/PDA Georgia Coordinator
Guests Show #1:
Sara Mullen, Assoc. Dir. of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Chris Melody Fields, Election Protection Coordinator for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
Sara Mullen started in 1997 as a volunteer in the ACLU of PA Pittsburgh office.
She joined the staff as the office manager in Jan. 1998 and became Asst. Dir. of the Pittsburgh Chapter in 2000.
Mullen transferred to the Philadelphia office in Nov. 2002 and currently heads the Community Organizing Dept. and oversees the communications program.
She received her BA in Middle Eastern History from the University of Chicago in 1993.
Mullen previously worked in academic publishing.
Chris M. Fields is campaign manager for the Lawyers’ Committee Election Protection program coordinating coalition efforts to inform voters about their rights and that every vote is counted.
Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee in Dec. 2011, Fields worked in the govt. affairs div. for a biological resource center on the global health/biosecurity agenda.
Fields spent two years as Outreach Dir. for Common Cause advancing the democracy reform agenda and fighting for the Fair Elections Now Act that would create publicly financed campaigns for Congress.