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‘This Is My Vote’ campaign in high gear

Students at Clark Atlanta University, register to vote following civil rights icon the Rev. Joseph Lowery's speech at the school's convocation Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Atlanta. Lowery urged young people to vote. /AP Photo/David Goldman

Are you registered to vote? Think you have plenty of time to register or to vote early or to arrive at your local polling place on Nov. 6 and breeze through the process? Well, it may not be the straightforward experience you’re anticipating.

With the This Is My Vote campaign, the NAACP has launched its biggest effort to date to make sure there are no obstacles to voters exercising their political might in the all-important upcoming election.

The civil rights organization’s Marvin Randolph, who coordinates the non-partisan national voter-registration activities, says, “In a year where we’re finding many states are making it more difficult for people to come out and vote, our campaign is trying to make it easier.”

Randolph is referencing legislation introduced (and in numerous cases, passed) in states across the country that the organization argues will make it tougher for a consequential number of otherwise eligible voters to participate — we’re talking possibly five million people, according to the NAACP’s estimates. Among the new laws, which the group expects will exact a heavy toll on African-Americans and other minorities, as well as elderly and young voters, are: no more registering and voting on the same day; making it mandatory that voters have a government-issued photo I.D., such as a driver’s license, and reducing early-voting opportunities by half.

In Florida, for instance, a federal judge heard arguments this week on a lawsuit to block new legislation that reduces early voting days from 14 to eight. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown told reporters after the hearing that many Black churches had organized “souls to the polls” voting drives for the Sunday prior to the Nov. 6 election day, the Associated Press reports. The law, if upheld, would eliminate voting on that day.

According to the NAACP, in 2008, “eligible Black, Latino and Asian voters nearly erased the gap between White eligible voters. The Black voter turnout rate increased by eight percent from 2004 to 56.3 percent.

The group wants to make sure those numbers aren’t rolled back. Registering new voters (for example, the group has sent out registration forms to young people coming of voting age for the first time prior to the upcoming election); fighting new, restrictive legislation in the courts, and initiating grassroots efforts to mobilize voters and help get them to the polls is all part of the group’s outreach.

And, Randolph adds, “In this day and age we’re taking the extra step to make sure people understand their rights and that if people run into problems when they do go to the polls someone is there to assist them.

To get registered — and informed:

Go to:

Or call: 1-866-MY VOTE 1 (1-866-698-6831)