Dozens of people gathered at the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Saturday, to participate in an NAACP-sponsored voter registration drive for the November general election. The concern of the civil rights group: state legislatures have changed the rules for voting.
"In 38 states across this nation," Roslyn Brock, the national board chair of the NAACP, told the crowd, "folks are trying to stop your access to the voting box."
Democratic Congressman Jim Moran called the changes in rules for elections, "'voter suppression." Moran added, "There's no cause for it, other than political intent. There isn't any problem. There isn't any [voter] fraud."
Virginia's Republican-dominated legislature now requires some form of identification before voting, such as a driver's license, company photo ID, or a utility bill with a name and address.
Some voters, like Virginia Fader, of Springfield, Va., have no objection to the tightened requirements. "I believe," said Fader, "that most people do have photo ID's or can bring proof of their residence."
The opponents of tightened voter ID rules think it's a plot designed to make it harder for students and poor people to vote.
"Well, it's wrong," said sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University. "It's wretched and ridiculous. It may even be illegal, and we're trying to work on it. But, in the meantime, act like you're going to a JZ concert, and show up!"
At the nonpartisan rally, the name of Barack Obama was never uttered. But a voter registration drive in liberal-leaning Alexandria is far likelier to yield Obama voters than it is to yield Romney voters. But that's not why volunteer registrar Eben Smith participated.
"Just vote, said Smith. "Based on what's important to you, and whatever candidate is best to fulfill your needs, you need to vote."
To vote in Virginia in the Nov. 6th general election, people must be registered by mid-October.