Washington, DC – Long before the final results of the Midterm Elections were reported on Tuesday night, a team of esteemed women from Black Women’s Roundtable, students from Howard University, and young professionals from Black Youth Vote and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, had determined that Black voter participation surpassed expectations and outnumbered turnout in 2010. The intergenerational team at the eighth biennial National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) Ronald Walters Election Day National Command Center (NCBCP RWCC) communicated with on-the-ground field operations in twelve states to monitor problems at the polls, disseminate important information via social media, and analyze voter turnout and election results.
“This is the first time the Command Center was held on a historically Black college campus, but not the last. The Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center (RWLPPC) is the perfect partner to co-host the Election Day Command Center,” said Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, NCBCP and convener Black Women’s Roundtable. “Nearly fifty young people volunteered throughout the day. It was refreshing to see the young people pair up with seasoned experts sharing knowledge and telling our own story. The NCBCP looks forward to expanding its partnership with RWLPPC to provide civic leadership, engagement and non-partisan campaign management training opportunities for Black women, students and community organizers on a year-round basis.”
Elsie Scott, PhD, founding director Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University and co-host of the NCBCP RWCC adds, “We were honored to host the Command Center and look forward to compiling the data to produce a detailed report of what happened on the ground. Dr. Walters would be proud to see the effort that the Howard University Student Association put into making this a resounding success.” An internationally recognized political scientist, professor and scholar, the late Ronald W. Walters was on a founding board member of the NCBCP and an early framer of their voter empowerment campaign and Election Day Command Center.
The get-out-the-vote operations in the states were conducted by affiliates of the NCBCP’s Black Women’s Roundtable & Black Youth Vote; A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), and the National African American Clergy Network. Here are some of the highlights from the ground reported to the Command Center:
- Field organizers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina reported higher than expected early voting in counties with large African American registered voters.
- Clerks in Alabama rejected 300 out of 1500 absentee ballots for not enough postage.
- The website of the Georgia Secretary of State had an outage so voters could not find out where to vote and some polling locations listed on the website were incorrect.
- In 25 Virginia Beach precincts, 34 out of 820 voting machines were out of service.
- In Georgia and North Carolina, there were reports of untrained poll workers denying voters the right to cast a ballot when a name did not appear on the electronic registration lists. In some cases, poll workers did not offer a provisional ballot or check the paper voters’ rolls. For example, in Wake County, North Carolina poll workers turned away 247 voters.
Clayola Brown, president,APRI,stated, “Our field coordinators from North Carolina to California, were able to tell us first-hand what problems they were experiencing so they could be addressed immediately. Their anecdotal accounts on the ground validated that Black women were showing up in phenomenal numbers. We know Black women vote to improve conditions for families and the community, that’s why we saw state ballot initiatives for minimum wage and paid sick days passed.”
“The African American faith community has been a vital part of every major advancement of Black people in our nation,” said Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Ph.D., co-chair, National African American Clergy Network. The Black faith community worked in coalition with community groups and produced a larger than expected Black voter turnout.”
“Black Youth Vote coordinators on the HBCU campuses reported that Black youth showed up at the polls enduring historical barriers even in 2014,” comments Lisa Fager, senior advisor, Black Youth Vote. “As we move forward we must continue to fight for our right to vote for quality candidates that stand for improving our communities and daily lives. Working with young people from Black Youth Vote, HUSA and RWLPPC gives me the confidence that the next generation of leaders willunderstand their history and the importance of protecting their vote.”
Other national partners and women leaders facilitating the Command Center included: Waikinya Clanton, National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women; Holli L. Holliday, Esq., Holliday Advisors; Rene Redwood, Redwood Enterprise, LLC; Leslie Baskerville, NAFEO; Joycelyn Tate, Esq., Black Women’s Roundtable; Enid Doggett, INSPR Media; Muriel Cooper, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Lisa Paris, Pew Charitable Trust; Jan Temple, APRI; Carol Joyner, Black Women’s Roundtable; Michelle Mitchell-DuBois, Values Partnership and Avis Jones-DeWeever, PhD, Incite Unlimited. For more information on the RWCC visit www.ncbcp.org.
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Founded in 1976, the NCBCP is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement and voter participation in Black and underserved communities. The women’s initiative, BWR stays at the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls. Established in 1996 to address the chronic decline in Black youth voter participation, Black Youth Vote! has served as one of the leading youth-led movements focused on training the next generation of civic leaders and organizers, and increasing Black youth voter participation and engagement.
The RWLPPC was established by Howard University to serve as a focal point for research, publications, service, policy discussions and leadership development activities in areas involving the engagement of African Americans in the U.S. political process and in U.S. national and foreign policy. The Center is an interdisciplinary center that will preserve the legacy of Dr. Ronald Walters, a scholar-activist who conducted research, served as a mentor to students and political leaders, provided strategic direction and thinking in the political and civic arenas, was a prolific writer and served as a political commentator.