Savannah NAACP planning big church-based voter registration push on Sunday

From the Savannah Morning News, Savannah Branch NAACP leaders call for Voter Registration Sunday:

Savannah Branch NAACP leaders on Monday called on all churches in Chatham County to recognize “Voter Registration Sunday” this week to encourage registration of all eligible voters for the upcoming elections.

Al Scott, branch president, said there are 31,000 unregistered, eligible voters in Chatham County and the drive is targeting 10 percent of those.

He called the upcoming elections the most important in memory, citing defense and health care issues as key. He said some 16,000 jobs at Hunter Army Airfield/Fort Stewart are “on the line” and cited a void created by the pending retirement of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

The most important elections in memory?

Al Scott, a successful politician at the state level, is also Chairman of the Chatham County Commission.

Hey, it’s a small city, so why shouldn’t the county chairman also be head of the NAACP, which is urging churches (both predominantly white and predominantly black?) to register their congregants to vote? No insult at all meant to Scott, but the overlapping connections (conflicts?) just seem very Savannah. Fittingly, the registration drive was announced on the steps of a church, and the drive will also target a number of marginalized groups, including jail inmates who have not lost their right to vote.

There has been a lot of speculation about the likely black turnout in the November elections; I think it will be very strong. Some polls have shown unusually high black support for Republican statewide candidates; I think those polls are wrong. If we’re seeing a push like this for registration, there will be a major get-out-the-vote effort too. The polls screening for “likely voters” are not taking into account some of the realities on the ground.


  1. I was curious so I ran some numbers on people who voted in 2010. Remember these are people who actually showed up the most likeliest of voters.

    Still on state voterfile: 2,268,131 (I realize this might be lower than the total at the time but people have died, moved, etc)

    Had voted in all 4 of 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 prior generals:
    1,000,964 – 44% of all voters – Group is 23% black

    Had voted in 3 of 4 prior 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 generals:
    510,836 – 23% of all voters – Group is 27% black

    Had voted in 2 or fewer of 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 generals:
    756,331 – 33% of all voters – Group is 34% black

    So you can begin to see how likely voter screens can start to miss serious elements of the electorate. Another thing to consider:

    Of people who had voted 4/4 prior, 1,109,637 exist and 1,000,964 voted (90% turnout)
    Of people who had voted 3/4 prior, 710,758 exist and 510,836 voted (72% turnout)
    Of people who had voted 2 or fewer, 3,236,577 exist and 765,331 voted (24% turnout).

    So as you can see – most of those 3.2 million people aren’t likely but there are so many of them that even if only a few turnout (24% in this case) as a group they can become the second largest group in the electorate. Yet most polls that feature some sort of cut-off likely voter screen will miss them completely.

    I think a news organization has an obligation to report on what those voters are thinking, particularly if they aren’t uniform in their opinion.

    • Bill Dawers says:

      Thanks for the interesting data. It’s also worth noting that 10% of people who voted in the four previous elections didn’t show up in 2010 — a pretty big election for the state and federal offices. So not only do we have a large turnout of voters that are by almost any definition “unlikely” voters, we also have a less than perfect turnout even by voters who are deemed “likely” ones.

      I don’t know whether the Savannah NAACP’s efforts are being replicated in other parts of the state, but a big push like this could have huge implications in statewide contests . . .

      • Yeah – that is an interesting point. So if you did a likely voter poll that somehow focused on people who voted in 3 or more prior elections that year (maybe only selected those phone numbers) you’d have a pool of 1.8m to interview from but approximately 17% of the “likely” voters you interview won’t actually vote and you miss the 765k from outside the likely universe completely.

  2. benevolus says:

    Y’all keep this up and you will do more to inspire minority voter registration and voting than any Dem ever could.

    What is the possible conflict between being in the NAACP and being on the County Commission? A quick search shows a Gwinnett County Commissioner is also a member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as the North Gwinnett Schools Foundation. Are these “conflicts”?

    We’re still fighting the Civil War, aren’t we?

    • Sam Olens was practically the cheerleader in chief for the Metro Chamber when he was chair of the Cobb Commission.

      To answer your question – only the right kind of extracurricular activities are OK!

    • Bill Dawers says:

      I’m not fighting the Civil War at all, actually. The connections are just an interesting — almost funny — example of the cozy relationship in cities like Savannah between politics, nonprofit allegedly apolitical activism, and nonprofit allegedly apolitical religious institutions.

      • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

        So other than the racial makeup how does this differ from Ralph Reed using nonprofits, religious institutions, and pulpits for his politics? He had the opportunity to do some jail house recruiting as well.

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