Charging that conservatives are implementing new rules to prevent a large turnout during the Presidential election, the leader of the National Urban League made voting rights a top priority during his  2012 “State of Black America,” address.

President of the NAACP, Ben Jealous. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Post)

The National Urban League has issued “The State of Black America report since 1976 when its former leader, Vernon Jordan, spoke after President Gerald Ford delivered a State of the Union address without mentioning African Americans, the poor or people in urban areas. The report focuses on civic engagement, education and employment.

“This year we have seen more states use more laws to push more people out of the ballot box then any point since the rise of Jim Crow,” said Ben Jealous, the NAACP president and chief executive officer. “Some states like Florida have gone back to the old playbook….pushing 500,000 Floridians off the roles who were able to vote in 2008. Half of those are black people.

In an interview, Morial said the Urban league and the other groups are pushing the Justice Department to stop these efforts in several states from Wisconsin to South Carolina. “We are under attack and we have got to occupy the vote and push back these voter suppression laws.”

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