Voter registration among blacks is down from 2008, prompting the NAACP and other civil rights organizations to launch registration drives two months earlier than in past presidential election years. Leaders of the NAACP and other groups blame the decline on new state laws requiring people to produce identification to register or placing limits on who can run a voter registration drive. They also say the foreclosure and job crises have affected black Americans in large numbers. Another likely factor, said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation: The excitement over the prospect of electing the first black president has faded.
The NAACP said registration by black voters is down almost 7 percentage points, based on 2010 Census figures. The Obama-Biden re-election campaign says registration may be up since then in anticipation of the coming election. NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous said that increasing black voter registration is an urgent concern. “We’re starting earlier, working harder, making more use of technology this year, because this year we are witnessing the ugliest environment we have seen in a long time,” Jealous said. He and others say new state laws affecting voter registration are intended to sway the election against Obama.