NAACP to Monitor November Elections

Oct. 16, 2006

Bruce S. Gordon, NAACP President & CEO, said the NAACP will monitor the November 7 elections in Maryland and other states to prevent some of the problems that occurred on primary Election Day September 12. The Maryland Election Protection Operation will operate from the NAACP Election Day Voter Command Center at the Baltimore headquarters on Mt. Hope Drive.

Gordon said: "While the NAACP will take steps to counter obstacles to voter participation, we are encouraging our communities to cast their votes, even if it requires extra effort. Civil rights activists went to extraordinary lengths to earn the right for black Americans to vote. Some lost their lives. We owe it to them and ourselves to honor their sacrifice by voting, no matter what challenges we face."

NAACP volunteers will observe targeted precincts in the Baltimore metropolitan area and Prince Georges and Montgomery counties. From the NAACP Election Day Voter Action Center, lawyers, volunteers and partnering organizations the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and People for the American Way will monitor complaints of voter irregularities and advise voters experiencing problems at the polls. If necessary, this information will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Gordon mailed a letter to Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. last Friday and urged him to take all necessary steps to protect voters. In particular, there are concerns about touch-screen voting machines and inadequately trained poll judges. On Election Day in September, polls in Baltimore City and several counties were plagued by a lack of election judges and problems with computer voting machines. In some cases, polls failed to open on time.

The NAACP will pay special attention to voting in 10 states, including Maryland, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania. To report Election Day problems at polling places, voters may call the NAACP at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, President, Baltimore City Branch NAACP, who filed a lawsuit last month to give city voters an extra hour to vote on primary Election Day September 12, said: "We want voters to know that the NAACP will be on the job protecting their right to vote." A city judge ordered the polls to stay open until 9 p.m. after there were numerous complaints that several polling places opened late.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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