There’s good news. Black voters are in the house this Election Day. From Massachusetts to Tennessee, blacks are letting their voices be heard.
Prof. Charles Ogletree reported that blacks in Massachusetts are determined not to be denied their right to vote. When the e-voting machines failed, they demanded -- and got -- paper ballots. When the polls were late getting started, election officials agreed to keep the polls open later. And it didn’t take a court order. Election officials may be slow but they know it’s a no-brainer to take on a bunch of lawyers breathing down their necks.
Ogletree: “People here up North are feeling a sense of renewal that their vote will be counted…People are stepping up to the plate and making a difference.”
Peteey Talley, convener of the Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation, reported on the difference that voter education has made in Ohio. Talley said her coalition got the word out that people could vote early, which has cut down on long lines. Poll workers were less stressful because there were fewer voters.
OK, the bad news. Dr. Joe Leonard of the Black Leadership Forum and Kirk Clay of Common Cause reported on calls to the National Voter Hotline 1-866-MYVOTE1.
Kirk gave a breakdown of the problems:
- 21% Voter Registration. In many cases, the registration forms completed at the Department of Motor Vehicles were not forwarded to local boards of elections.
- 13% Absentee Ballots. People don’t trust voting machines so they requested absentee ballots and are angry that they never received them.
- 6% Voter ID
- 4% Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail
- 4% Coercion or Intimidation
Dr. Leonard said:
My greatest fear is that voter confidence will begin to wear because of distrust of our electoral system. Callers are saying, ‘I don’t know whether my vote will be counted.'
Stephanie Jones, executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute, added:
This is another wake-up call for us regardless of the outcome. This process must be fixed. As a nation, we can’t afford these kinds of problems to continue. We must have clean and fair elections so that everyone can have confidence in the electoral process.