Melissa Harris-Perry | June 24, 2012
>>> african- americans will be disproportionately affected by a restricted number of voting laws enacted by states since last year. according to the brennan center, 34 states have introduced legislation that would require voters to show i.d. that means 25% of voting age african- americans that have no current voter i.d. may be disenfranchised on voter day in november. and registration drives and early voting compound the impact on communities of color. that potential problem has sparked action. black leaders have responded from the threat of voter suppression with action. jeff johnson dug a little deeper into this issue on a report that we'll show you now.
>> reporter: black churches have organized souls to the polls voter drives after sunday services. after a new ohio law, voters no longer allowed to cast ballots on the weekend before the november election. ohio state representative , alisha reece of cincinnati voted against the bill. now ohio churches will need to step up and spread the word.
>> nothing beats word of mouth and the churches have hundreds and hundreds of people that come every sunday and can get the information out to them in a nonpartisan way.
>> you have to change your situation. you have to change your condition. it's up to you.
>> reporter: bashir jones, a youth activist in cleveland, says the black church needs to take things a step further.
>> voting it good, but change doesn't end with the vote it may start there. but, you have to educate them on what they are voting on.
>> reporter: education, issues, but the process as well. with new voter access laws in more than a dozen states, minority voters in particular are facing more scrutiny across the country. this year, an estimated 5 million voters will be affected by these new laws. many black churches planning to guide congregants and even help them pay for valid i.d.s in some cases.
>> the church has to make certain we give the people copies of what they need, that we take them to the supervisor of elections office, we walk them through the process.
>> reporter: with more pressure to register in time, black leaders know they are on the front line this election year.
>> we must register all that we can, because turnout, numbers in america really count.
>> reporter: jeff is back with me on the table, along with kenji, david, and aisha. we're just getting news out of egypt, democracy works, people have a vote, but we're nervous about the role of religion in this new democracy and turn back to the united states and say, oh, maybe democracy is not working so well. and people don't have access to the polls and religion may be conduit, and, jeff, this realistic that churches can push back against something as powerful as these voter suppression efforts?
>> churches traditionally have. the real question, can the black church have a renaissance of sorts? moving away from the apolitical activity that a lot of churches have done to hard core mobilization and some of the pushback is because the irs went hard in the name of partisanship. you have a lot of black ministers that are gun shy about being involved, because they are worried about the irs. but they understand this is a real fight, and as much as we don't want to talk about a lot of these racial issues, there is an african- american president under attack in many cases, because there are people who are afraid of an african- american president , regardless of what people want to say and there is a community of african- americans that did support the president. that did help him get elected, that want to see him elected again, but beyond that, want to exercise their right to democracy without republican state legislatures standing in the way and blocking them at every turn.
>> on the one hand, i love the notion of part of the civil rights movement , the work of the church against the ultimate voter suppression issue, jim crow , but i'm nervous about the church for the same reason i'm nervous about the muslim brotherhood it comes with its own ideological package that may be beyond partisanship. they may sort of generally end up registering people who are going to vote for president obama , but they might also be registering people just after preaching a service, it's adam and eve , not adam and steve .
>> this is not -- we're not talking about a religious fundamentalist running for office. we're talking about a base of people mobiling followers, which shouldn't make us feel uncomfortable. it should encourage us. it increases the number of people participating in the electoral process . that's what we're talking about. not religious fundamentalism from a leadership process.
>> i think to your point about the wedge issues that conservatives try to exploit to utilize the black church to get votes, we know the reason why we see voter suppression efforts is because when black folks turn out en masse, they will generally be more progressive in ideology. sure, a couple of wedge issues that might divide a little bit, but at the end of the day , we know conservatives are pushing, because that is probably not the biggest fear. when black people come out and vote, democrats will probably win. that's why they are trying to keep them home.
>> any reason to have church/state anxiety, or is this a reasonable way to expand and make sure our democracy is functioning?
>> the problem i have with it, i don't think churches should be bearing the burden of this. we should all be outragesed. from a constitutional perspective. we have four constitutional amendments , each one of them expanded the franchise on the basis of race, gender, age, and wealth. so that there would be fewer and fewer restrictions, and have the clock turn back in this way, is really unnerving. of citizen should be outraged.
>> the concern too is the retribution, we really jumped over the point of this retribution by the congress against holder for challenging them on these voter laws. we haven't talked about that enough. this is a long conversation and one i hope not just with the church that all of us are aggressive on moving forward to november.
>> the church of one kind, but this is a space where all of thus us should be outrgoutraged. thank you no david chalon. the rest of will be back. later, pride of the city. [