Marvin “Doc” Cheatham chairs an organizing meeting for a voter registration coalition on Jan. 31. (Photo by Roberto Alejandro)

A coalition is organizing with the goal of bringing the number of registered voters in Baltimore City to 400,000, an effort that will require the group to register 25,000 people before the 2016 presidential elections.

Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, one of the persons helping to mobilize the effort—currently organizing under the banner “Project VRA (Voting RightsAct) 400,000”—says that 25,000 is the number of voters that have been removed from the rolls since 2013 through the regular purging process that local Boards of Election undertake to maintain their active voter lists.

At a planning meeting on Jan. 31, various organizations were represented including the Baltimore City NAACP, the Green Party, the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee, Woman Power Inc., the League of Women Voters, the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and the Coppin Heights Community Development Corp., among others. Former state senator Larry Young was also in attendance at the meeting.

One woman who spoke at the meeting tied this current effort to the voting rights efforts of the 1960s. “I grew up watching all the dogs and the water hoses, and all that, so I’ve always been motivated, always believed in the power of the vote, so that’s why I’m here today,” she said.

Cheatham also drew on the memory of the Civil Rights era, pointing out that the four little girls who lost their lives in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.,, died after their church was targeted for registering Black voters.

“There’s no reason why we can’t get to 400,000 (registered voters),” said Cheatham towards the close of the meeting.