Workers demonstrate the new voting machines that will be used on April 26. (Courtesy photo)
Organizations in Baltimore are doing what they can to not only get people to the polls but get them there informed on who they are voting for.
In the last mayoral primary election in 2011, 23 percent of Baltimore City’s registered voters voted, a five percent decrease from the 2007 election, according to Splice Today.
Organizations such as the League of Women Voters (LWV) and the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have worked to get more people registered and to the polls while offering educational inforamtion on the candidates and their policies.
The LWV is a political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government. The LWV works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
The LWV has hosted more than 25 distinct public events with candidates in the upcoming election and provided voter registration at every public forum and event they sponsored.
“These events help us fulfill our mission of making democracy work,” said Linda Rittelmann, co-president of LWV. “We made a concerted effort this election to target areas of the city involved in last year’s unrest.”
With all the efforts of LWV, there are still areas where they wish they could do more.
“I wish we had the resources to provide rides to the polls for people, but we’re just a group of volunteers,” said Rittleman.
The Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP is also working to make sure people find their way to the polls.
“I did every high school, most of the churches, and we also go to Mondawmin and I go to Pennsylvania Market and I go to Lexington Market,” said Tessa Hill-Aston on voter registration at a meet and greet at Morgan State University.
According to Hill-Aston, the Baltimore NAACP branch has done more voter registration than the 20 other branches in Maryland and has registered about 500 former felons that can now vote in Maryland.
Civil rights and election law consultant, Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, noticed a negative trend in past elections.
“We are seeing fewer and fewer folks registering, along with that we are seeing fewer and fewer folks going out to vote,” said Cheatham. “ We are about to become the fifth most registered jurisdiction in the state of Maryland, when we had been third for some years and now we’re fourth.”
Cheatham said he is expecting a higher turnout in this year’s election.
“We’re going to do better because of the type of elections that are before us combined with the number of candidates that people can identify with,” said Cheatham. “It’s going to increase a little, not a whole lot, but I’m predicting already, it’s going to increase a little bit.”
Cheatham knows that even with all the work these organizations are doing, there’s still more that needs to be done.
“The groups that are not showing up to vote are the ones that have to be targeted. The largest group that we have that is not voting is 18-35,” said Cheatham. “We have to get that age bracket registered and voting.”