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NAACP to hear election complaints

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The Clayton County NAACP will be standing by to take calls reporting "voting irregularities."

"Our office will serve as a command center," said Joseph Wheeler, first vice president of the county branch. "They can contact us if they're experiencing any irregularities in the precincts, if they're seeing something wrong at the polls, we'll be taking the complaints and investigating, along with other agencies."

The announcement came after a week of early voting that saw a massive turnout in the county, with lines stretching from the history courthouse to the street and around the courthouse lawn. On the last day of early voting, people waited for hours under umbrellas, despite rain and cold. On the first day of advance voting, there were more long lines, a sight the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People praised.

"American citizens exercising their God-given right to vote," Wheeler said. "That's a beautiful sight."

There were some reports of problems with computers in Riverdale on Monday, and the NAACP officials met with Clayton County Elections Director Annie Bright, who told them it was a state problem that the precincts pushed through.

"We have not had any irregularities," Bright said.

The NAACP isn't alleging anything, but wants voters to know they have an advocate and a watchdog with the association, if there are any irregularities.

"We do this at all [elections]," said Dexter Matthews, branch president. "All of them are important, but because of what's going on in the country, this one is very, very important."

Wheeler said that, historically, "irregularities" have meant problems with ballots and voting machines, problems with doors being closed or polling places being moved, understaffed polling places, purged registration lists, and overt intimidation.

"We just want to make sure that all is fair," Wheeler said. "At the end of the day, it all needs to be fair ... And we're nonpartisan, so we're encouraging everyone to get out and vote."

Anyone witnessing any irregularities is asked to call the NAACP office at (770) 471-0669 or Election Protection at (866) OUR-VOTE.

The NAACP is also offering rides to the polls and accepting volunteers to help get out the vote.