NAACP Organizes Ministers for GOTV, Citing Photo ID Law

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The NAACP in Chattanooga is helping lead a statewide effort to recruit black ministers to get out the vote.
Joe Rowe, vice president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that nearly two-dozen ministers from different denominations already are involved (http://bit.ly/y8JXwF). From now until the presidential election in November, the ministers will organize marches, host voter registration drives and offer transportation to the polls.
The Rev. Jeffrey Wilson, pastor of Chattanooga’s New United Missionary Baptist Church, said, “We want to send out notice to the elected officials and the powers that be. We want to let them know that we are concerned, we vote and we care about what’s going on in this community.”
The NAACP effort was prompted by concerns that a new requirement for voters to show photo identification at the polls could disenfranchise thousands.
Republicans sponsored Tennessee’s voter ID law, saying it would combat voter fraud. But many Democrats say the law will discourage voters who tend to vote for their candidates, such as the poor, minorities and students.
Most forms of state or federally issued identification are acceptable at the polls. The state estimates that about 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee could be affected. About 15,000 people have received government IDs for voting since the law was approved last year. It went into effect in January.
In all, 15 states are expected to have photo ID laws in place by the November elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and NAACP chapters across the nation are involved in the get-out-the-vote effort.
The theme of the campaign is “Still in Crisis,” a reference to the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.
And the Rev. Kenneth Love, pastor of St. Paul AME Church and executive director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said that just as ministers led marches for voting rights in the 1960s, they are leading the fight to maintain those rights in 2012.

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