Blacks Still Lagging in Voter Registration as Activists Make Urgent Registration Appeal

By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Three African-Americans are running for governor; Democrats are in a dogged race to win majority of the U. S. House and Senate in the Nov. 6 mid-term elections; and crucial legislation affecting African-Americans – including the Voting Rights Act, police reforms, gun control, mass incarceration and anti-poverty measures – are at stake.

Yet, an estimated nearly 8 million African-Americans across the U. S., this year, were not registered to vote, according to a report distributed by Donna Brazile, former chair of the Democratic National Committee. That’s 14 percent of the total 51 million Americans who are not registered to vote.

This is the reason that major civil rights and voter education organizations are engaged in a full court press – a state of emergency – for voter registration before the deadlines from state to state.

“Our lives are on the ballot this year so it is absolutely crucial that African-Americans as a whole participate in these midterm elections at rates that reflect our true voting power,” said NAACP President/CEO Derrick Johnson. “We’re urging everyone to use their power to register and mobilize new voters and get involved in one of the most important elections in our nation’s history.”

That was Johnson’s statement on National Voter Registration Day Sept. 25. But there’s still plenty of time for most prospective voters across the U. S. to register and vote on Nov. 6. State deadlines vary. But most deadlines are at least 22 days before the election – in person, by mail and on line. Some are as few as seven days.

The following are phone numbers and websites that prospective voters and voter registrars should know:

  • Perhaps the most comprehensive website for state by state voter information is Vote.org. This website not only tells people how to register to vote in their states; but it allows users to click on their states to see voter registration deadlines, the locations of their voting precincts, and other crucial information.
  • Election Protection Hotline: (866) 687-8683 or (866) OUR-VOTE. This number is staffed with lawyers and other voting experts to field any questions people might have about voting, problems voting, or problems registering to vote before, during and after election day.
  • General information on voting, such as how to become a poll worker, can be found at the U. S. Election Assistance Commission – EAC.gov.
  • Nationalvoterregistrationday.org also has a state-by-state guide to voter registration.

Voting activists have hoped that Black voters will automatically mobilize to act because of racial insults, divisive rhetoric and conservative, anti-progressive appointments by President Donald Trump. Those appointments include Attorney General Jeff Sessions who has been busy overturning police reforms and the embattled Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh, who at least 100 civil rights groups have vehemently opposed because of critical civil and human rights at stake as well as affirmative action and anti-discrimination policies.

“The most important player in this year’s election is the individual,” said Jamal Watkins, NAACP vice president of Civic Engagement. “Our recent poll showed a majority of voters of color and nearly all Black women felt disrespected by President Trump. People of color also believed this president has set back race relations and these numbers will play a role in both how and why they’ll vote in the midterm elections.”

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