This year’s NAACP national convention, which kicks off this weekend in Houston, is focusing on voter participation and the civil rights organization’s efforts to fight what it sees as restrictive voting laws that have been passed by various states the last few years.
Between 6,000 and 7,000 members are expected to attend the group’s 103rd convention. Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, are among the scheduled speakers.
The theme of the convention, which starts Saturday and runs through July 12, is “NAACP: Your Power, Your Decision – Vote.” NAACP officials said their main priority this year is making sure that everyone, regardless of race, creed or economic status, will have the right to vote during this fall’s elections.
Since 2010, at least 10 states, including Texas, have passed laws requiring people to show a government-issued photo identification card when they go to the polls.
Supporters of such laws have said showing an ID will prevent voter fraud. But opponents say requiring an ID could suppress voter turnout among poor, elderly and minority voters who are less likely to have a driver’s license or passport.
University of Houston history professor Tyrone Tillery said the issue of battling voter ID laws is one that fits with the NAACP’s history of helping disenfranchised voters.
“It plays to their strengths,” said Tillery, who specializes in 20th century African-American history and was a former NAACP director in Detroit in 1989.
Other issues NAACP officials plan to discuss at the convention include the federal health care law that was upheld last month by the U.S. Supreme Court and efforts to repeal stand-your-ground laws around the country in the wake of the February fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is citing Florida’s stand-your-ground law in his defense in the teenager’s death.
This Associated Press Article is published fully in The Grio