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Richmond NAACP requests poll investigation

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 at 10:01 am in election 2006.

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.

Sincerely,

Ken Nelson
President-Elect and Executive Committee Member
NAACP Richmond Branch

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  • Andrés Soto

    I thank my friends in the Richmond NAACP for bringing their serious concerns, that are shared by many Latinos as well, forward to Steve Weir. But, this was not just a problem impacting the predominantly African American neighborhoods, which the North and East, where Wilson School is located, is not.

    The confusion began with the mailing of erroneous polling palce notifications, followed by new polling place notifications. I have voted at Ford School for 26 years, this year it was moved to Richmond High School. No problem per se,regarding the location. Inside was a mess during the post work voting rush. There were only enough markers provided by the Elections Office for the number of voting booths present, so by the end of the day as the pens walked off there were huge lines of people waiting to vote due to a marker shortage. Ludicrous. The poll workers did not know what to do when voters showed up with the two different colored and dated polling place notifications. All in all a poor job done in general in working class communities of color in West County, not just African American neighborhoods.

    We have to do a better job!

  • Andrés Soto

    I thank my friends in the Richmond NAACP for bringing their serious concerns, that are shared by many Latinos as well, forward to Steve Weir. But, this was not just a problem impacting the predominantly African American neighborhoods, which the North and East, where Wilson School is located, is not.

    The confusion began with the mailing of erroneous polling palce notifications, followed by new polling place notifications. I have voted at Ford School for 26 years, this year it was moved to Richmond High School. No problem per se,regarding the location. Inside was a mess during the post work voting rush. There were only enough markers provided by the Elections Office for the number of voting booths present, so by the end of the day as the pens walked off there were huge lines of people waiting to vote due to a marker shortage. Ludicrous. The poll workers did not know what to do when voters showed up with the two different colored and dated polling place notifications. All in all a poor job done in general in working class communities of color in West County, not just African American neighborhoods.

    We have to do a better job!