12:22pm

Tue February 14, 2012
Black Ministers Enter Voter-Photo ID Fray

NAACP Statewide Voter Registration Effort

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The NAACP in Chattanooga is helping lead a statewide effort to recruit black ministers to get out the vote.

Joe Rowe is vice president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP. Rowe says he’s contacted all 42 chapters of the Tennessee NAACP, as well as a number of youth organizations, and ministers statewide to promote a plan to increase voter participation.

From now until the presidential election in November, the NAACP will organize marches, host voter registration drives and offer transportation to the polls.

Rowe says the effort was prompted by concerns that a new Tennessee law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls could disenfranchise thousands.

"We're headed down a path that it appears the minority population will be able to elect representatives for the majority of the citizens, and that's not a good place to be. We really need to be working hard to make it easier for everybody to vote, not making it more difficult."

Rowe says the new law will disproportionately impact, minorities, senior citizens and young people. He’s encouraging seniors in particular to take advantage of early voting which begins today.

Republicans sponsored Tennessee's voter ID law, saying it would combat voter fraud.