Johnnie Cordero, Chairman of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina and of the South Carolina Democratic Party’s Affirmative Action Committee for the 2020 SC State Democratic Convention, has filed a lawsuit in an effort to halt disenfranchisement of Richland County voters at the Party level.
The suit contends that Matt Kisner, Chair of the Richland County Democratic Party, acted illegally when the unilateral decision was made to move the date of the Richland County Party convention and to hold the convention through a virtual meeting platform.
Cordero says he recognizes that the unprecedented nature of the global coronavirus pandemic has created challenges for all of our societal systems and that it necessitates employing new ways of doing business but that any new processes implemented cannot sacrifice the legal and constitutional rights of South Carolina’s most vulnerable voters for the sake of mere convenience.
“When I took my seat as Chair of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina and Chairman of the Affirmative Action Committee, I made a promise to serve the state’s marginalized Democratic voters. It is a commitment that I did not make lightly and in taking this action, I am standing up for the people I serve.”Johnnie Cordero
“Let me be very clear,” says Cordero. “I’m not, by any means, asking that the County Party put the lives of citizens at risk by holding an in-person convention today or tomorrow. I’m saying that this is another example of people using the pandemic for personal political gain. I am asking that they take a step back and think long and hard about the party’s lengthy history of disenfranchisement of minority voters. I’m asking that they take to heart the six basic elements adopted by the Democratic National Committee in January 1968, after the late Mrs. Fannie Lue Hammer and others were excluded from participation in Democratic Party and organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. I am asking that they follow the example set by the Democratic National Committee and use the legal tools at their disposal to move the convention to a date at which it will be safe to hold an in-person convention or, at the very least, take time to ensure that all voters, including those without internet access can participate in a virtual convention. We also need to ensure that votes taken during the election can be accurately and securely counted. If these steps aren’t taken, as I said in the suit, the people excluded will almost assuredly be those persons who the Affirmative Action Plan was implemented to reach, i.e., African Americans, women, people 36 and younger, LGBTQ and Hispanic, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and people with disabilities.”
The complaint, which was filed in South Carolina’s Fifth Judicial Circuit continues the legacy of Civil Rights activists throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Dred and Harriet Scott sued for their freedom in the 1850’s, Homer Plessy sued against segregation in 1892, Linda Brown famously sued the Topeka Board of Education in 1954. In 1978 legal action had to be taken to uphold affirmative action and in 2013 Attorney General Holder used the law in an effort to retain the full weight of the Voters Rights Act.
“When I took my seat as Chair of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina and Chairman of the Affirmative Action Committee, I made a promise to serve the state’s marginalized Democratic voters. It is a commitment that I did not make lightly and, in taking this action, I am standing up for the people I serve.”