New NAACP Leader Kicks-Off Tenure Registering Every Last Voter

BALTIMORE, MD ––While most kids were home playing Nintendo, 14-year old Benjamin Todd Jealous and his friends were out commanding card tables and conducting voter registration drives. After registering thousands of new voters, Jealous realized the power of community organizing. Now, twenty–one years later, he is combining his organizing skills -- honed as a youth by the NAACP -- with emerging technologies to transform the organization that he now leads. As the youngest President in the NAACP’s nearly 100-year history, and a fifth-generation NAACP member, Jealous starts his tenure doing what he does best. Getting people involved.  “As an organization, our goal is to make the promise of this country real for all families,” said Jealous, “and this starts with making all Americans regular voters. 

While unprecedented numbers of African Americans and young people are expected to register in this year’s election, Jealous’ aspirations are higher. “We must register every last voter, verify every last voter, mobilize every last voter, protect every last voter and ensure that every last vote is counted,” said Jealous.

This week, Jealous started his first day on the job rolling out a new online voter registration initiative, Upload to Uplift.  This initiative uses Web 2.0 technology to encourage visitors to register and upload the email addresses of family and friends that are not registered. Upload to Uplift also uses a text message feature to remind registered voters to go to the polls on Election Day. “Online voter registration is a natural extension of the NAACP voter empowerment programs,” said Jealous. “While we will continue to do employ successful strategies, like door-to-door canvassing and phone banking, however, this tool adds the power of viral voter registration to our mix.” he added.

Many of the 1200 active NAACP units have tested the site anticipating its ability to expand their existing voter registration efforts. “Our branches and our Youth and College units, are excited about using this emerging technology to reach a new and very active core of activists – both online and offline, said Nelson B. Rivers III, Chief of NAACP Field Operations.

The NAACP is calling on all corporate, community partners, bloggers and individuals with web sites to download the widget onto their Web sites. “By making the tool available to partners to place on their sites, the NAACP aims to reach the millions of remaining unregistered African Americans and youth voters and to encourage greater turnout at the polls,” said Kirk Clay, Sr., NAACP Director of Civic Engagement.

According to the United States Census Bureau, only sixty-nine percent of African Americans are registered compared to seventy-five percent of non-Hispanic whites. In 2004, four-fifths of all registration happened in the last three months of registration and two-thirds of people who downloaded the online registration forms actually mail them in. “We’re encouraging all our community partners and anyone interested in uplifting the voices of the underrepresented to utilize these resources,” said Clay.

Individuals interested in registering can visit www.naacp.org to complete, print and mail the registration form before the October 4th deadline. Corporate and community partners interested in offering the online registration widget to their site can download it from www.naacp.org. For more information, contact Carla Sims, carlasims@verizon.net, ph: (202) 547-8313.                                                                                

Upload to Uplift

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