Black and Asian Voters Warned: Vote for Your Life: Voter ID Laws Just the Start of Suppression!

April 23, 2024
 Min Read

On May 2nd, 2024, we will see Mayoral, Combined Authorities and Police and Crime Commissioner elections taking place.

The perennial question among Black and Asians who are registered to vote, is whether they should bother to vote at all. 

This is a totally valid question. 

As we approach a particularly turbulent election season, Operation Black Vote (OBV) is alarmed by the current state of our democracy—and we suspect you share our concerns. In this brief article, we will underscore the critical importance of casting your vote and highlight the significant consequences of failing to participate in the electoral process.

Politics: A Challenging Arena

Bill Clinton’s former political strategist, Paul Begala, once said that politics is show business for ugly people.”

Many would agree that party and Westminster politics in the UK has become an increasing ugly, hostile, and aggressive arena. 

The unprecedented scale of threat of murder, violent attack, personal abuse that Diane Abbott MP receives on a daily basis is powerfully illustrative of a deeply threating ‘political’ culture that singles out and attacks Black leaders, across the political spectrum.  British politics needs urgent and radical reform.  

A Wake-Up Call to Democracy

The horrendous murders of Joe Cox MP and Sir David Amess MP provide the most horrendous and tragic wake up call for the dangers posed to our democracy. 

Trust and confidence in politics. 

The Elderman Barometer Trust is one of the most authoritative global surveys on public trust and confidence in business, NGO’s, professions, institution and most notably politicians. 

Their recent UK Trust Barometer revealed that only 30% of Britons trust the government - the lowest since 2012. A majority, 66%, view the government as "completely ineffective," and 69% think it only serves specific groups, with 63% deeming it "corrupt and biased."

Additionally, 66% believe government officials lack sufficient understanding of emerging technologies for effective regulation.

Among 28 countries surveyed, the UK ties with Argentina and Japan for the least trust in institutions, with a Trust Index score of 39. Trust in government has declined by 15 points since 2021, with local government trust also dropping significantly.

The report indicates a crucial need for political leaders to rebuild public trust ahead of upcoming elections.

Declining public trust in democracy and the political process poses an existential threat to our democracy.

Why? Because history has taught us that in European nations where there is a collapse in trust in mainstream democracy, these nations have a strong tendency to invite extremism of the worst kind.

And as Black and Brown communities, we have always witnessed that at times of severe economic challenges, there is a consequential return of the type of squalid racism and reckless political rhetoric, we believed to be long dead to history. 

Racial inequality is the highest it’s been for decades. 

That’s why OBV has developed and launched the National Voter Registration Alliance (NVRA) funded by the Joseph Rountree Reform Trust (JRRT) to support the NVRA information exchange and network platform whose goals are to maximise the potential of all those working to register Black and Asian voters to share information and work in partnerships. 

One of the most exciting developments is OBV’s partnership with Black Equity Organisation (BEO).

This unique and exciting collaboration will see engagement with African and Caribbean communities across five cites leading to the co-production and development of a national Black Mandate informed by the priority issues and concerns of these communities.

This exciting project will deliver this Mandate in time for or the general election later this year. OBV will focus on mobilising African, Asian communities to ensure they are registered and ready to vote, establishing local voter registration teams in each of the targeted cities.

OBV will also be hosting a number of key marginal constituency hustings where the combined vote can determine who wins in these closely contested seats.  

We will launch our joint project at our online activator event taking place on 7th May and you can sign up here

Collective Black leadership is going to be key going forward. Both OBV and BEO are pleased to demonstrate our shared commitment to work together to dismantle the edifice of systemic racism. 

Notwithstanding the above, we know, that our African and Asian histories teach us that rights not defended - will be taken away.

Recent attempts by US states to disenfranchise Black and Latino voters should provide all the examples you need -and for reasons a little closer to home. Voter identification requirements are the first step towards more voter suppression tactics.

The Power of Your Vote

That’s why OBV has recently launched a series of new and exciting social media adverts for our Get the Vote Out campaign called ‘Vote for Your Life’.

We need your support in ensuring that these series of powerful adverts, released over the next couple of weeks, go viral in the right places. Be in no doubt that as we all saw during Covid 19 and our history of deteriorating relations with the police, systemic racism is and can be a real stone-cold killer.

Our latest campaign exposes that reality. 

Here are the top five reasons why we think you should register to vote - and vote

1. People died for your rights. They put themselves in front of bullets and steel bayonets and died in their millions to secure your right to vote. 

2. With systemic racism and racial inequalities in the UK getting worse – its clear that a non-voting doesn’t work. In reality, a non-vote is a positive vote for the status quo, and that means increased levels of racism. 

3. You feel there’s no one worthy of your vote? - then vote in line with something that you’re against.

4. If you’re not on the electoral roll, your chances of being able to get credit, a mortgage, or any financial services is severely limited.

5. When government decides how much money your town or city should get for schools, teachers, NHS and just about everything else – the number of registered voters in your areas is a political consideration.

That is why there is no such thing as a non-vote. Don’t let May 2nd slip you by; it’s time to show up and fight back. 

Where are the elections taking place in May 2024

May elections are taking place in 107 local authorities across England.

Voters will also choose the Mayor of London, London Assembly members and 10 Mayors outside the capital including West and East Midlands. Liverpool, West Yorkshire and Manchester.  

In addition, voters across England and Wales will elect 37 police and crime commissioners (PCCs).

No May elections are taking place in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

And don’t forget to take your photo ID to the polling station with you. 

Check out what you need here. 

Also, Electoral Commission can advise and you can find out more here.  

If you or anyone you know are turned away from the ballot box and think you have the correct documentation, then we’d like to hear from you.

OBV Staff Writer