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Following a spate of voter suppression laws that could prevent up to 5 million voters from heading to the voting booth for the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 6, the NAACP has launched a state-by-state campaign to register, educate, and turn out voters.
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The effort is the organization’s largest and most-comprehensive electoral effort in recent memory and seeks to significantly boost participation among minority, young, and elderly voters.
“This year we are working smarter than past years because the hurdles are so high, including strict laws that require voters to show identification,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous told NewsOne. “America hasn’t seen a coordinated attack on voting rights of this scale in over 100 years, but we are seeking to overcome voter suppression and we are doing that by starting earlier voter registration drives and making greater use of technology, which allows us to target unregistered voters.”
Jealous announced the campaign last week at Clark-Atlanta University at the national launch of the NAACP’s “This Is My Vote!” campaign, with the goal being to register scores of new voters and coordinate with state and college NAACP chapters, voter advocacy groups, and other civil rights organizations to ensure voters are able to cast ballots.
The singular program is slated to use mobile, online, and traditional recruiting methods to enlist volunteers for the registration and education drives. The strategy includes a national voter empowerment hotline (1-866-MY-VOTE-1), registration mailings to more than 1 million Black youth turning 18 by Election Day, and partnerships with national faith-based organizations.
Georgia is at the forefront of the group’s historic registration effort, because it is home to nearly 1 million unregistered voters of color. It is one of 12 states targeted for enhanced registration, education, and voting drives, which will include paid directors and staff for volunteer recruitment and training, direct mail and paid advertising. Besides Georgia, other states include Virginia, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri and California.
Jealous chose to make the announcement at Clark-Atlanta University, an HBCU, because they are also under attack. “Georgia is ground zero for voter suppression,” he said. “They require you to have ID, not just for voting but for registration. Some state legislatures have HBCUs in their crosshairs simply because of their political participation in the election. That’s why these are important landmarks.”