THE BLOG
11/04/2014 01:22 pm ET Updated Jan 04, 2015

Bad News for Politicians Trying to Suppress the Vote

Since 2010, virtually every state legislature in the nation has considered laws that would make it harder to vote, and across the country dozens of those laws have been put into effect.

Those laws would be bad enough if they restricted all people equally, but we've seen again and again that politicians who are trying to block access to the ballot box are most interested in targeting certain people: students, the elderly, the poor, and, especially, African Americans.

Whether it's voter ID laws, onerous registration procedures, limits to early voting or reductions in polling places, the burden falls hardest on the same communities who have always had to fight hardest to cast votes and have them count. These laws put the right to vote in real danger and drive home how important it is for Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act so we can stop voting discrimination before it happens.

Yet, as angry as these laws make me (and they make me really angry) I'll admit that there's a silver lining: They've made our community as fired up to vote as I've ever seen.

In my work with People For the American Way Foundation's African American Ministers Leadership Council, I've visited churches across the country, and everywhere I go I hear a variation of the same theme: The harder they fight to keep me from voting, the harder I'm going to fight to make sure I can!

In a year when the experts on TV are talking about low turnout and disengaged voters, my trips have shown me exactly the opposite. We've held trainings in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana and more, and everywhere I go I'm seeing passion and commitment to voting that both humble and inspire me.

That's not to say it's easy. The greatest danger of restrictive voting laws is the confusion they generate. When voter ID goes into effect, voters need to know exactly what documents they need to provide. When polling places change, voters need to know where to go. And when the voting hours get cut back, voters need to know how they're going to make it to the polls -- and sometimes that means giving them a ride.

These are very real challenges, but in my work with hundreds of ministers of every denomination, I have never doubted that we're up to the task.

Whenever we meet, whether at rallies or trainings or just on the phone, the members of the AAMLC remind each other: "I am a vessel, full of power!"

Today, on Election Day, the politicians who passed restrictive voter ID laws to keep African Americans from the polls are going to see just how full of power we are -- and they're going to see what happens when we use it.