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
December 25, 2014 -- Updated 0633 GMT (1433 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2312 GMT (0712 HKT)
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0335 GMT (1135 HKT)
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1811 GMT (0211 HKT)
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT