Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

GOP voter suppression fueled black turnout

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
November 10, 2012 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Voters wait at a makeshift polling place in the hurricane-devastated Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, New York.
Voters wait at a makeshift polling place in the hurricane-devastated Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, New York.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roland Martin: African-Americans outraged by GOP attempts at voter suppression
  • Anyone could see that GOP wanted to block Obama supporters, he says
  • Registration campaigns went into overdrive, and voters exacted revenge, Martin says
  • The NAACP registered 432,000 voters, a 350% increase over 2008, he says

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- As political pros, journalists and pundits pick over exit polls to study how and why President Obama beat Mitt Romney for the presidency, a lot of the attention has been showered on the Latino turnout, gender gap and voters under 30.

The African-American turnout has largely been overlooked, seen by prognosticators as a no-brainer for President Obama.

There was never any doubt he was going to receive the overwhelming majority of black support. In 2008, Obama won 95% of the black vote, with black women voting at a higher rate than any other group in the country.

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

But six to nine months ago, numerous Obama campaign workers were privately expressing concern about the enthusiasm level of black voters, and about whether the massive 2008 turnout could be equaled.

Politics: What the election teaches us about ourselves

They hoped registration efforts and get-out-the-vote drives would kick in at the right time.

Re-electing the first black president was clearly a motivating factor for African-Americans, but what also should be noted is the Republican Party's efforts to enact voter suppression laws.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Not only were black folks angered and shocked at Republicans' blatant attempts at voter suppression in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Texas and other states, they exacted revenge at the ballot box.

Conservatives have valiantly tried to assert that voter ID laws, trimming the early voting days and even eliminating early voting on Sundays was a prudent and practical decision that had nothing to do with black, Hispanic and young voters, or anyone else.

Opinion: The GOP's real problem is ideology

Obama, Biden celebrate in confetti cloud

But anyone with half a brain could see that the GOP was desperate to upend the coalition that proved so pivotal to Obama in 2008. All over the country GOP-led legislatures and governors rushed to pass voter ID laws, only to see federal courts reject a number of them that clearly weren't thought through properly.

In Ohio, the voter suppression tactics were outrageous. After public pressure mounted to stop the practice of extending early voting in GOP-leaning counties and cutting them in Democratic-leaning counties, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted had no choice but to equalize early voting periods.

Such decisions, frankly, ticked off black activists, politicians, and civil rights groups to the point their voter registration campaigns went into overdrive. I talked to officials in multiple states, and the anger could be heard in their voices. Social media played a role as every new voter suppression effort was exposed, setting off a litany of complaints.

Opinion: GOP routed by reality

In Florida, Republicans stopped allowing early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, with no explanation as to why. In 2008, black churches marched a massive number of congregants to the polls, led by their slogan, "Souls to the Polls." The GOP clearly didn't want to see that happen again.

Obstacles like these rekindled the feeling among many African-Americans of the tactics enacted during the civil rights movement to keep blacks from voting. So pastors, deacons and laymen pushed and prodded their members to cast absentee ballots, and pushed hard for their members to stand in lines that during the early voting period can last as long as eight hours.

In Ohio, activists hit the salons, barbershops, recreation centers and churches to rally voters to do their civic duty. Black radio stations were enlisted in the battle to protect the sanctity of the ballot.

Opinion: Obama's critics, repudiated at last

Even when the networks were calling the election for President Obama on Tuesday, Florida residents were still standing in line to vote, some places in the rain, doing their part to push back.

According to NAACP president and CEO Ben Jealous, the organization registered 432,000 voters, a 350% increase over 2008.

The president's reelection wasn't about one group over another being the deciding factor. It was a collection of voters from varied backgrounds that made the difference. But the GOP should recognize and accept that its voter suppression tactics were not only roundly defeated, but were decimated.

It was the late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer who famously said, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Black voters, and others, were sick and tired of the GOP trying to keep their votes from being cast by passing onerous laws, and they responded in an amazing way, matching the historic turnout of 2008, and bringing to life the civil rights anthem, "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around."

Opinion: How GOP can attract Latino voters

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0336 GMT (1136 HKT)
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0221 GMT (1021 HKT)
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT)
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2250 GMT (0650 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT