NAACP Launches Multimillion Dollar Voter Registration Drive

With only six months left until election day, the nation’s largest civil rights organization, the NAACP, is launching a multi-million dollar voter education campaign.  The effort, called, This Is My Vote, follows what the NAACP calls “an unprecedented and coordinated attack on ballot access that could prevent as many as five million voters from casting their vote.”

Republican state legislatures across the U.S. have passed new voter ID laws.  The NAACP’s campaign represents the first comprehensive multi-state effort to confront the issue.  New voter ID laws have passed in 17 states over the past year and more are set to pass.

“America hasn’t seen a coordinated attack on voting rights of this scale in over a hundred years. But we can turn this situation around if we vote,” stated NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous. “That is why we are launching this historic voter registration, education, and protection effort today.”

Just over the weekend the The Washington Post reported a drop in voter registration among Black and Latino voters according to CENSUS figures.  Though the Obama presidential campaign disputes the facts in the story, all political sides understand the vital importance of voter registration as the 2012 elections approach.

“After record voter participation in the 2008 election, the systematic attempt to deter minority voters is disturbing and must be met with a concerted national effort,” said Marvin Randolph, NAACP Sr. Vice President for Campaigns.

NAACP Ben Jealous announced the campaign in Atlanta, Georgia on the campus of Clark-Atlanta University.  The NAACP asserts their campaign is the only non-partisan 50-state voter education campaign in the country.  The effort will also include a national voter empowerment hotline at 1-866-MY-VOTE-1.  It will also feature registration mailings to over 1 million young African Americans who will turn 18 by election day, which is November 6.

The NAACP also plans to target 12 states in particular during their campaign. Those states include Virginia, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri, California and Georgia.  Those states will feature paid staff, direct mail targeting and paid advertising.

Other voter education and registration pushes will be conducted by the National Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus.  Their efforts will include voter education, registration and ID card production in states where new laws call for them.

In October 2011, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University released a study on the new voter ID laws that stated that “as many as  many as 10% of eligible voters do not have, and will not get, the documents required by strict voter ID laws.”  The study also indicated that 5 million voters could be impacted by the new laws.

Republican controlled legislatures have also made voting more difficult by cutting the number of days people can vote. Republican controlled legislatures in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio have cut the number of days citizens can vote early; West Virginia’s state legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, has also cut the number of days for early voting.  Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott reduced early voting from 14 days to 8 and Republican Governor of Ohio John Kasich reduced the early voting days from 35 to 16.