NAACP Tests New Minority Voter Engagement Program Ahead of Thursday’s County Elections

NAACP's role in elections.
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:42 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The District Attorney’s race here in Shelby County received national attention.

‘One long-time civil rights organization saw the race as an opportunity to really engage minority voters.

Quite often, there’s a lot of attention placed on races at the top of the ticket for races like Governor or President, but the NAACP is making a national push for down-ballot races like the race for DA and commission seats.

NAACP chose Memphis as their pilot city for their new program.

For the past four weeks, representatives and resources with the National office of the NAACP have been involved in the Shelby county election cycle.

The organization launched the “Building Community Voice Fund” and chose to launch the pilot program in Shelby county because of the county’s large Black population.

Leaders with groups were concerned that black voters’ views were not being represented.

The NAACP invested about 70,000 dollars into the local branch. Plus helped to put boots on the ground to help execute voter registration, postcard, and door-knocking campaigns.

“With the national team coming down, they went and reached out to over 10,000 voters, so yesterday evening at four o clock, we were getting people calling in trying to get rides to the polls,” said Memphis Branch NAACP executive director Vickie Terry.

NAACP leaders say they knocked on over 40 thousand doors over the course of four weeks.

However, the NAACP chose Memphis to try out their inaugural program for another reason.

The November mid-terms will have significant implications across the country.

The NAACP hopes Shelby County’s large Black population base in a red state can provide a road map, so to speak, of how to win in other southern states like Georgia or Texas.

“We’re talking to folks about local issues that matter to them. It’s the most important thing that you can do, and we can begin to start that type of conversation,” said Dominik Whitehead, NAACP vice-president of Campaigns.

Whitehead believes local efforts will trickle up in terms of statewide elections and maybe turn a state like Tennessee from red to blue.

While the NAACP calls their efforts a success, there is still a lot more work to do.

Only about 23% of voters turned out for the county elections.

There was a slight uptick in early voting from four years ago, which was something the organization focused on this election cycle.

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