Community Voters Project Registers 82,000 Minorities
Community Voters Project announced yesterday it has registered at least 82,000 minority voters in Virginia.
For the past several months, the non-partisan group has had 370 staffers working in cities across the state. The group paid special attention to Petersburg, Hampton, Richmond, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Fredericksburg and Falls Church.
If its estimates are correct, the 82,000 figure is the first real indication of the percentage of newly registered voters in Virginia who are black or Hispanic. The State Board of Elections does not collect such data, but the board announced last week nearly 350,000 people have registered to vote between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. County registrars are also currently processing thousands of additional applications that arrived between Sept. 30 and yesterday, which was the deadline to register in Virginia.
If the number of total new registrants this year eventually swells to 400,000, the efforts by Community Voters Project would guarantee that at least 20 percent of the new registrants are minorities. That means the total percentage of new minority registrants is likely to be much higher because Sen. Barack Obama's campaign and other outside groups have also been targeting African-Americans and Hispanics.
The higher that percentage grows, the better it is for Obama's campaign because polls show him getting near universal support from African Americans.
African Americans make up 20 percent of Virginia's population, but they often account for just 14 to 18 percent of the electorate, although they could make up a larger share this year.
But Community Voters Project's registration campaign in Virginia has not been without controversy. In July, three paid canvassers working for the group were charged with submitting false names on voter registration forms in Hampton.
Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, then accused Community Voters Project of being part of "coordinated and widespread effort to commit voter fraud" in Virginia.
Democrats countered Frederick of trying to suppress minority voting, and Frederick quickly backtracked from his initial statements. But the Republican National Committee has stepped up efforts in recent days to highlight allegedly fraudulent registration efforts in several other states.
Although voter registration efforts nationwide may boost Obama's chances in several states, they come with risks if all those new voters don't turn out.
Some conservatives say certain segments of the GOP base are energized to show up at the polls this year because of the tactics that have been employed by Community Voters Project and groups such as ACORN in registering new voters.
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