Ken Nelson, president-Elect and executive committee member of the NAACP Richmond branch, has requested an investigation into polling place problems in several Richmond neighborhoods where a high percentage of African-Americans live.
The matter has particular significance in Richmond where only 279 votes separate the apparent winner of the city’s mayor race, Gayle McLaughlin, and its African-American incumbent, Irma Anderson.
Here is the text of Nelson’s letter to Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir:
Dear Mr. Weir,
The Richmond Branch of the NAACP has received numerous complaints regarding Precincts 394, 388, and 387 at Wilson Elementary School in Richmond, California. We are concerned that misinformation provided by poll workers and an apparent lack of training and support for poll workers at this location resulted in voter disenfranchisement and prevented many residents from casting their votes. We are particularly concerned that this disenfranchisement occurred in precincts with high numbers of African-American voters.
We have received reports that poll workers at this location refused to provide voters with provisional ballots and improperly turned voters away from the polls. Furthermore, neither poll workers nor voters were able reach the county elections office when they sought information on voting procedures. We have also received complaints that poll workers at this location did not have adequate training and that this lack of training resulted in general mismanagement of the precincts and voter frustration, in some cases leaving voters with no alternative but to leave without casting their vote.
We request that you launch a formal investigation into this matter and meet with the Richmond NAACP to discuss the complaints our office has received. We also request that you provide the Richmond NAACP with a copy of all training materials provided to poll workers and specifically all information provided to poll workers at the Wilson Elementary School location.
We look forward to receiving your prompt response. You can reach me directly at 510-776-7518.
President-Elect and Executive Committee Member
NAACP Richmond Branch