BALTIMORE – The NAACP announced Monday that it will monitor voting in 10 states next month, sending observers to polling places, taking citizen complaints and notifying the Justice Department of any serious problems.
The states were chosen based on those with pivotal elections, states with concentrations of black voters, and those with a history of polling problems, according to the Baltimore-based civil rights organization.
President Bruce Gordon urged voters to persist in trying to cast ballots.
"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," he said in a statement released before a news conference at the group's headquarters.
"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."
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People planned to have hundreds of volunteers monitoring the election in Maryland, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
In Maryland's primary election last month, there were problems with electronic poll books used to check in voters. Also, human error contributed to delays in voting in Baltimore and in the counties of Montgomery and Prince George's. In Baltimore, some poll workers did not show up to open polling places. The problems reported in Prince George's included the transmission of data from precincts to the county election board after polls closed. In Montgomery, polls opened late because when election officials delivered the touchscreen voting machines, they forgot to deliver the cards voters use to cast ballots.
NAACP volunteers will observe targeted precincts in the Baltimore area and in the counties of Montgomery and Prince George's.
Gordon sent a letter Friday to Gov. Robert Ehrlich, asking him to ensure the electronic poll book problem was fixed, that there were enough trained polling place volunteers, and that there be enough provisional ballots in case of problems. He also asked Ehrlich to direct election boards to hold demonstrations so voters could become familiar with the voting machines.
The NAACP will run an election day voter command center at its headquarters and take calls from concerned citizens at (866) OUR-VOTE.