Washington Watch: NAACP Launches This Is My Vote Campaign And The Importance Of Voting In Local Elections (VIDEO)

Marvin Randolph, the NAACP’s senior vice president for campaigns; and Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss the NAACP’s new campaign called “This Is My Vote” and other issues related with voting rights.

MR. MARTIN:One of our missions here on “Washington Watch” is to alert you to the seriousness of voting – not just in the presidential race, but also in the state and local races. Now, we’ve talked about voter suppression on this show since we started our third season in September, and so what we want to focus on today is not just voter suppression, not just stepping out there and getting you to vote, but to understand the seriousness of the other races as well.

The NAACP has launched a new campaign called “This Is My Vote.” Here to talk about that, as well as other issues with voting, is Marvin Randolph, the NAACP’s senior vice president for campaigns; and Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

Now, every time we talk about this whole issue of [the] vote – I’ve seen it lately – folks only look at – look at it through the prism of the reelection of Pres. Barack Obama. But when you begin to think about the Trayvon Martin case, a special prosecutor, Angela Corey, was appointed. She’s also elected. When you talk about judges making rulings, people talking about – talking about the Marissa Alexander court case in Florida – elected. And so how do we get our audience to understand that this has to go beyond Pres. Obama, that what happens locally impacts every aspect of your life, whether it’s city, county state?

MS. CAMPBELL: Forty-nine of the 50 states have state elections where they’re electing their legislative branches of government.

MR. MARTIN: In November.

MS. CAMPBELL: It’s – in November – this November. In the South, where 55 percent of our people live, nine states have state elections where they’re electing their legislatures. So, if you want to talk about the Trayvon Martin “stand your ground” law, or any of these laws – these voter suppression laws – they were – they were enacted through the state, or attempts through the state. So, if we want to impact that and reverse those trends, we have to pay attention to those state elections. Whether or not your state is, quote-unquote, in a “battleground” state –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — is not relevant. Where we live there is an election that’s going to impact those issues. Trayvon Martin – I use – use that as an example. Young people know. They’re tuning in. That’s why they turned out, and so “Vote for Justice” is what they’re talking about. You have folks who are talking about “Respect My Vote” – Hip Hop Caucus.

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: We are – I ha- — we – our – our campaign for the National Coalition Unity Campaign is “Stand Your Ground for Change” – “Progress” to – over time. And, of course, Martin – Marvin, I know, will talk about what the NAACP is doing. All of our organizations are working closely together, working across – working with the Urban League, NA- — NAACP, National Action Network. All of us –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — together know – Lawyers’ Committee, Advancement Project. We have to have a[n] unprecedented coalition in this election cycle, because we’re talking about ten years of election reform, where we made it easier for people, turned on its head in a year and-a-half.

MR. MARTIN: Marvin, I – I raise that point about these judicial races because you have judges who run.


MR. MARTIN: D.A.s who run.


MR. MARTIN: And I want to use an example: Craig Watkins in Dallas.


MR. MARTIN: Okay? First African-American D.A., major city there in Texas. He comes in. He realizes how many people have been sent to prison wrongly, begins to institute a program to retest DNA. Some 30 people in that county have been released from prison as a result. That’s a Black district attorney.


MR. MARTIN: If he’s not in there, I don’t necessarily believe that somebody else would have been as aggressive on that. That’s an elected position.

MR. RANDOLPH: Yeah. Well, the bottom line is that – what we always know is that “all politics is local,” and if you care about local issues, if it’s people that care about Trayvon and justice for Trayvon; if it’s about the police commissioner, or a federal ju- — or – or a judge that’s an appointed – appointed – appointed official, the only way that you can affect that is by registering and voting. And that’s why we’ve launched this historic campaign to make sure that we are both mobilizing and doing outreach to voters across this nation, and that we’re making it simple for people to register to vote.

MR. MARTIN: So, exactly what is the campaign? When does it kick off, and what is it?

MR. RANDOLPH: So, we kicked our campaign off this week, on Wednesday. The campaign is called “This Is My Vote.” It’s an historic, nonpartisan, voter outreach and mobilization campaign; and what it does is it takes the rich legacy of the NAACP’s group of activists across the nation and weds it with modern technology and brings 21st-century campaign techniques to make it easier for people to register and turn out, and for us to protect the vote. And some of the things that we’re doing – and I know, you know, Roland, that you will be very familiar with this – is that if people want to register to vote, they can call 1-866-MYVOTE1 [1-866-698-6831], and the first thing they’re going to hear is your voice and a conversation about how we’re partnering with the Urban League and how we can take their information and send them a filled-out registration form that all they have to do is sign and send in. This is about making it easier to vote and not more difficult.

MR. MARTIN: And this campaign is in partnership also with the “Tom Joyner Morning Show.” So –

MR. RANDOLPH: We have a – well, we have a broad partnership –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. RANDOLPH: — with – with the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” –

MR. MARTIN: But when you said my voice, that’s who I recorded it for, so –

MR. RANDOLPH: — yes, that –

MR. MARTIN: — yeah.

MR. RANDOLPH: — is exactly what it is.

MR. MARTIN: [Chuckles.]

MR. RANDOLPH: That is exactly what it is – yes. Yes.

MR. MARTIN: Now – now, Melanie – go g- — I’m sorry. Go right ahead.

MS. CAMPBELL: The other thing is also, I want to make sure that people also have the information about what’s going on with voter protection. That’s starting now with the Election Protection Coalition, who we’re partners with. They have the 1-866-OUR-VOTE [1-866-687-8683] number. That is extremely important, because we – we – usually, in these election cycles, we can wait ’til later –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — but the reality is people are going to need help registering now because of the voter I.D. –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — laws –

MR. MARTIN: I – I – I’ve –

MS. CAMPBELL: — requirements for registration.

MR. MARTIN: — we’ve been saying –

MS. CAMPBELL: So, we want to –

MR. MARTIN: — for the –

MS. CAMPBELL: — make sure –

MR. MARTIN: — longest –

MS. CAMPBELL: — we put that out there.

MR. MARTIN: — “Check your” –

MS. CAMPBELL: Very, very important.

MR. MARTIN: — “cards now.”

MS. CAMPBELL: It’s very important that we start early. I’ve commended[?] the NAACP and all of our organizations working together, to make sure and certain that our folks know that the urgency of now –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MS. CAMPBELL: — is where we need to be –

MR. MARTIN: Marvin.

MS. CAMPBELL: — on being prepared.

MR. RANDOLPH: And so what – what’s important here is that not only do we make sure that we get everybody registered – as many people as we can register. We have to educate them on the issues. We have to make sure that we protect their right to vote and that we turn them out on Election Day. And so we have tools that are purposed to do different things. It is very important that folks have easy access to registering, and it’s also very important that when we get to Election Day, they have easy access to being able to tell folks what problems they’re having –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. RANDOLPH: — at the polls and get a response.

MR. MARTIN: And, again, for the folks at home, I want them to understand I’m not diminishing the presidential race –


MR. MARTIN: — but what the audience has to understand – and we all know it, because we’ve seen the numbers.


MR. MARTIN: There’s a tremendous drop-off of the number of people who vote for President and then who vote for the down-ballot races.

MR. RANDOLPH: Exactly.


MR. MARTIN: Typically, when you go in to vote, presidential ticket at the top. Then you have the U.S. senators’ races. Then you might have a governor’s race. Then you go all the way down, might be all the way down to water commissioner – whatever. All of those are critically important, and you can’t have a situation where you have so many people voting at the top and then literally a third or a half totally drop out. Forget everything else down ballot.



MR. RANDOLPH: — that’s e- — that’s exactly the case. I think that –

MR. MARTIN: Ten seconds.

MR. RANDOLPH: — I think the thing we have to wor- — we have to focus on in this election is that in 2008, we had the highest turnout ever in [the] African-American community, and – and that was a – a six – an 8 percent increase beyond what it was –

MR. MARTIN: In 2009 –

MR. RANDOLPH: — before.

MR. MARTIN: — the mayoral elections drop off, 2010 –

MR. RANDOLPH: And then –

MR. MARTIN: — drop off.

MR. RANDOLPH: — and the- — it dropped down by 7 percent.

MR. MARTIN: Right.


MR. RANDOLPH: And we’ve got to –

MS. CAMPBELL: But young –

MR. RANDOLPH: — close that gap, and we have to make sure that our folks are voting on local issues.

MR. MARTIN: And I[’ve] got to – I’m out of time. But we’ve done with – we’ll de- — we’ll be dealing with this again over the next several weeks and driving this point home. Marvin, Melanie, we appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

MS. CAMPBELL: Thank you.