Getting Out The Vote: The NAACP Election Day Command Center 2010
The Command Center provided several services to voters and potential voters. Local volunteers joined staff in using a phone banking system to place calls to registered voters nationwide reminding them to vote, and to answer any questions they may have about the election process. Volunteers also made and accepted calls from people needing rides to their local polling place. The volunteers then coordinated with the local NAACP affiliate to ensure that those who needed rides to the polls were transported to ensure their vote was counted.
The NAACP also partnered with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, ACLU, Advancement Project and others to form the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition, Election Protection. Representatives from Election Protection were also present at the Command Center, responding to calls reporting infringements on voters’ rights.
The Command Center received more than 20,000 calls to report grievances ranging from voter intimidation and deceptive practices, to equipment breakdowns and irregular hours. In Ohio, for example, voters reported a number of problems at poll locations throughout the Cleveland area, including overcrowded polling places, misinformation from poll workers, improper enforcement of voting rules and confusion about poll location assignments. There were multiple reports of voter intimidation in Arizona, including that of an assigned Republican poll watcher who was observed videotaping voters within the 75-foot polling place perimeter, and became confrontational with both an Election Protection volunteer and a volunteer waiting outside of the perimeter. In predominantly African American areas on Maryland near Baltimore and Prince George's County, voters reported receiving robocalls stating, "Obama and O'Malley have already won and there is no reason to go vote, sit home." In each instance, Election Protection followed up by confirming the acts of voter suppression and reporting to the proper authorities.
The hard work of the NAACP and other volunteers, coalitions & activists produced tremendous African American voter turnout in a number of states, compared to the previous mid-term election results in 2006. States like Illinois (9%), New York (8%), California and Texas (5%) all increased by at least five percentage points, while several others experienced marked turnout increases.