NAACP seeks higher voter turnout in downtown Dover area

NAACP political action team member David Lamar Williams Jr. and Central Delaware Branch NAACP President Anne Smith place Black The Vote T-shirts and masks on a table at 329 West Loockerman St. in Dover on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Anne W. Smith, president of the NAACP’s Central Delaware Branch No. 2028, and other members of the chapter’s political action team have been hard at work in reaching out to residents of the downtown Dover community to let them know to make their voices be heard on Election Day.

They say they don’t endorse candidates. They just want to spread the word that everybody has a right to vote on Tuesday.

It all began when Frank Marshall, NAACP Central Delaware life member, donated the use of half of a building at 329 West Loockerman St. in August.

That gave the political action team a foothold right where they wanted to be — in an area where the majority of residents are minorities.

“We were doing voter registration here, targeting this particular area especially, and we registered over 100 people for voter registration and we have moved from voter registration to ‘Get Out To Vote,’” Ms. Smith said. “The ‘Get Out To Vote’ is our national (NAACP) campaign, along with ‘Black The Vote.’

“This week we are doing tagging and getting people to remind them to vote. I’m personally online, texting and calling people in this particular region to come out and vote and remind them of that. This area tends to be low turnout and that’s why we’re here.”

NAACP Central Delaware branch member Charlotte Phillips said she has been particularly excited about the results the political action team has had and the information they have been able to disseminate.

“It’s so important to get the message to them that they’re eligible to vote,” said Ms. Phillips. “You know, we’ve had felons who didn’t realize that the law had changed four years ago that allows them to vote and that was really exciting to be able to communicate that. We had people who are in their 50s and 60s who had never voted before, so I got very excited when we were able to register them.

“We just want to try to convince people that (voting) is their right and they have a voice, and it does matter, because a lot of people feel like their vote doesn’t count. So, we’ve tried to say, ‘No, it does count.’ You add one and one and one and one and it makes a huge difference.

Central Delaware Branch NAACP No. 2028 political action team member Charlotte Phillips sweeps leaves off the window sill at 329 West Loockerman St. in Dover on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“Our goal was to register 100 voters and the last day (to register) on October 10th we registered numbers 99 and 100.”

Now the gears have shifted as the NAACP’s Central Delaware political action team counts down the last few days until Election Day.

“We are now in the process of getting out the vote. Our members are coming in,” Ms. Smith said. “Our members have all been supplied with a T-shirt and a mask. This weekend they’re going to wear their T-shirts and their masks and they’re going to drop off door knockers and remind people to get out to vote.

“We will also be providing free transportation to polling places in the community on Election Day. Our goal is to get the community a little more active politically.”

The free bus transportation is available for registered Kent County voters who need rides to the polls. Rides will be available to all polling locations from 7 until 11 a.m., from noon until 3 p.m. and from 4 until 8 p.m. Masks will be required, social distancing will be practiced and hand sanitizer will be available. To participate, call 302-538-9183 or 302-219-3905. Voters can also email their requests to angelatinasda@gmail.com.

After Tuesday, the buzz of participating and voting in the election will begin to die down.

However, team member David Williams will still have some fond memories of the past couple of months in downtown Dover.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s beautiful to be out here with the people. That’s why I became a member of the chapter, to be out here and get the people on the street and bring them in here to come in here and let them know about the vote. We’ve been getting a nice response from the community and it feels good to try and make a difference.”