Ahead of the all-important 2022 midterm elections, reports show that more than 55 million Americans remain unregistered to vote—and about 10 million are African-Americans who are eligible to vote but who are unregistered. 

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Transformative Justice Coalition seek to get to the bottom of why, with so much at stake, voter registration and get out the vote (GOTV) mobilization remain lacking notably among Black Americans across the nation.

During the NNPA national convention in New Orleans, marking the 195th-anniversary celebration of the Black Press of America, leaders of both organizations announced a get-out-to-vote campaign aimed at registering and mobilizing GOTV for 10 million more African – Americans to vote in time for the 2022 midterms. 

“The NNPA has talked about the vote, and there is no better time for us to show our power,” NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards stated during the announcement. 

“Let us take the lead and not be on the tail-end so we can show the present-day power of the Black Press,” continued Richards, who publishes the Houston Forward Times. 

“This is a great opportunity for us; we’ve got to make this happen.”  Barbara Arnwine, the founder, and president of the Transformative Justice Coalition, and her board chair and fellow lawyer Daryl Jones, told a captivated panel that their organization had recorded 72 voter suppression tactics to prevent a large population from casting ballots. 

Among them are strict voter laws in many Republican-led states, deceptive practices like robocalls; early voting cuts; and voter intimidation. 

“Black voters did our share in 2020,” Arnwine remarked. “Ninety-three percent of all eligible Black voters registered in Georgia.” 

Along with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Richards, NNPA executive board members Janis Ware, Fran Farrer, Cheryl Smith, and Jackie Hampton, Arnwine and Jones announced that the groups would utilize a multivehicle “votercade” to get out the vote. 

They said individuals riding in new and covid-safe tour buses would hit swing states ahead of the November elections to register and mobilize GOTV for 10 million new Black voters. 

“The first form of voter suppression is self-suppression,” Chavis asserted. 

“This last primary election showed that some of us were keeping ourselves from voting. There are 55 million unregistered Americans eligible to vote, and 10 million are African-Americans,” Chavis continued. “What if those 10 million were registered? We wouldn’t have worried about Donald Trump or the craziness of what the U.S. Supreme Court is doing now. Elections have consequences. The overturned Roe v. Wade, the overturned gun laws – are consequences of elections.” 

With more than 235 African-American-owned newspapers and media companies serving as members, the NNPA represents the Black Press of America. 

The Transformative Justice Coalition’s mission includes informed civic engagement and equal voting rights for everyone. 

They use a voting rights map of shame to inform the public of threats to America’s democracy, how to protect their voting rights, and steps to take to ensure the ability to cast a ballot and make sure it’s counted. 

The organization also seeks the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons. 

“[Anti-voting rights organizations and individuals] have trained 10,000 people to be poll disruptors to go to only Black polling sites,” Arnwine declared. “They’re not sending them to White polling sites, and if you watched the [Jan. 6] hearings, this is a concentrated effort to disempower Black voters.”

According to Davis, more than 18 million people are eligible to vote but don’t know it. 

“They are the felony disenfranchised,” Davis insisted. “They are confused. It’s intentionally done in various states. For example, in some states, you never lose your right to vote, and in some states, you can run for office if you’re incarcerated,” he explained. 

The votercade would help educate voters and explain what’s legal, among other things. 

“We’re calling on all 235 NNPA members,” Chavis said. 

Stacy M. Brown is an NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent. She can be reached at @StacyBrownMedia.

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