By Marc H. Morial
While some damage from these events is inevitable, the lack of government and citizen preparedness has increased the devastation caused by these calamities.
The $700 billion bail-out package that was signed into law last week will hopefully fix some of the damage caused by Wall Street greed and lax government oversight. That bill was better than the Administration's original plan, but it is far from perfect and still does not do enough in our view to protect homeowners who are facing foreclosure. With the presidential election of 2008 less than a month away, voters must ask themselves two important questions: First, which candidate has the best long-term solution for fixing our economy and helping American families and homeowners get back on their feet. And second, are we prepared as citizens on November 4 to make our voices heard, stand up for our rights and make sure every vote is counted.
With foreclosures continuing to pile up and the loss of another 159,000 jobs in September, our country is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Wall Street may be breathing a sigh of relief because of the bailout package, but Main Street is still waiting to exhale. We will to have our say on November 4th.
That's why the National Urban League is launching an unprecedented ''Vote to Empower'' campaign focusing on the urgent need for voter education, increased participation and the prevention of the kind of vote suppression that has occurred in the last two presidential elections.
We are demanding that all election officials uphold their duties and do what is necessary now and all the way to Election Day to prevent any infringements on voting rights.
We are calling on governors to verify that they have contingency plans for all foreseeable problems associated with the predicted massive turnout. And we are urging the President and both political campaigns to announce a zero-tolerance for voter suppression.
The National Urban League is ready to do its part. As a start, we are spotlighting areas of concern and issuing our first in a series of alerts and recommendations for citizen action. For example, in Michigan allegations have been made that foreclosure lists will be used to prevent citizens from voting. If true, this means that victims of foreclosure will lose their voting rights. A lawsuit has been filed to prevent this from happening and we will continue to monitor the situation. Other potential suppression efforts across the nation are also being investigated.
Finally, it is important that you educate yourself about the voting rules in your state and report any potential problems such as lack of voting machines or voter intimidation.
The swift action taken to address the growing panic in the financial markets reminds us of the government's fundamental responsibility to take action to avert national catastrophes. On November 4, voters will have the last word. Preventing a voter meltdown in 2008 is just as important as preventing an economic meltdown.
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