Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (D) on Tuesday called for voter ID laws to be banned as part of his plan to “safeguard democracy” for black Americans.
In an op-ed for the Charleston Chronicle, Buttigieg called for a “21st Century Voting Rights Act” becuse “cynicism” about the political “is nowhere more warranted than in the Black community, where systematic efforts are taking away the right to vote.”
“This means banning practices like voter ID laws and ensuring that potentially discriminatory changes to voting laws first be reviewed by the Department of Justice,” Buttigieg wrote. “We are not a true democracy if certain Americans are restricted from voting because one party has decided they would be better off if fewer people vote.”
Buttigieg wrote his op-ed ahead of next week’s BET Black Economic Alliance Forum and called for a “Douglas Plan for Black America” that also includes “reducing sentencing disparities,” bridging the wealth gap between black and white Americans, and encouraging “greater economic security within the Black community.”
“A week from now, our nation will celebrate Juneteenth. It marks the day when enslaved Black people in Texas learned–almost two years after the fact–that the Emancipation Proclamation had rendered them free people. It is a fundamentally American occasion–a celebration of freedom, but also an acknowledgement of freedom delayed. As we observe this day, we must be honest that the hopes stirred almost 160 years ago have still not been fully realized,” Buttigieg said. “Replacing racist policies with neutral ones will not be enough to deliver equality. We must actively work to reverse these harms, which is why I propose that we invest in equity with a plan as bold as the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. Let’s call it the Douglass Plan for Black America, in honor of Frederick Douglass, who called America to better live up to its promise. Such a plan could help heal the deep wounds of American’s original sin and supercharge economic growth for every American.”
Buttigieg argued that “Black Americans are not yet fully free when Black unemployment is still almost twice the national average, when the average Black eighth grader reads at a level far below their white peers, and when Black mothers are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.”
“We lack true freedom when so many schools are almost as segregated as they were before Brown v. Board of Education. And, we cannot have freedom when identical resumes with stereotypically white or Black names lead to wildly different chances of being hired,” he continued. “These persistent inequalities have compounded over hundreds of years. They hold back our economy and corrode the American soul.”
After failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams recently indicated that she could enter the 2020 contest if Democrats do not speak about voter suppression “every day,” presidential candidates like Buttigieg have been more vocal about voting issues.
Last week, Buttigieg said Abrams “ought to be governor of Georgia” had it not been for the state’s “racially motivated” laws.
“When racially motivated voter suppression is permitted, when districts are drawn so that politicians get to choose their voters instead of the other way around, when money is allowed to outvote people in this country, we cannot truly say we live in a democracy,” Buttigieg said.
Though Buttigieg has made a concerted effort to reach out to black Americans, he has struggled to gain the support of Democrats of color.
A BlackPAC poll last month of registered black voters across the country found that respondents identified “racism and discrimination” (50%) as the top 2020 issue. In that poll, Buttigieg recieved only 2 percent support from registered black voters. Former Vice President Joe Biden led the Black PAC poll with 45 percent.