The District of Columbia branch of the NAACP has active plans this election season to make sure that people of color are involved in the political process.
Doug Sloan, who serves as the chairman of the D.C. NAACP’s political action, is a noted commentator on District and national politics and has served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 4, is leading the charge in getting D.C. residents politically active.
Doug Sloan, chairman of the D.C. NAACP’s political action committee, is working to get people of color involved in the political process. (Photo by J. Wright)
“We will be hosting a D.C. Council member at-large forum in either early or mid-May,” Sloan told the AFRO. “We are planning to have a voter registration drive in early June and the primary is June 19. We are also working with the D.C. Board of Elections in their adopt-a-precinct program.
“This program will help residents become more informed about voting in the primary in their neighborhoods. We will pass out voter information such as polling places and requirements to cast a ballot as a part of the program.”
Beyond the District’s election, Sloan said the branch’s reach will extend outside of D.C.
“We are also working with branches in Pennsylvania and Ohio to make sure that they get people of color in those states to the polls,” he said. “We are a non-partisan organization. We can get you to the polls but we can’t tell you who to vote for.”
Sloan said in the fall, in preparation for the November 6 general election, volunteers from the District branch will travel to those two targeted states where he said the African-American vote is often the deciding factor in who gets elected to public office.
“We want to make sure that we educate people about the political process.”
One of the reasons that the District branch has the ability to help out in other states is because the District is considered a one-party city, Democratic. The D.C. Board of Elections reports that as of Feb. 28, 76.07 percent of District voters are Democrats, with Non-Party (Independent) as 16.46 percent and Republicans at 6.17 percent.
Since the advent of Home Rule that was instituted by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1973, all of the city’s mayors and D.C. Council chairs have been Democrats and the overwhelming majority of council members have been Democrats. District residents have been able to vote for president since 1964 and the city has overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party candidate.
Sloan said “I am fully aware that Washington, D.C. is a one-party town.”
However, his concerns are about how that affects the District’s African American population.
“Even though Blacks are still the majority of the population, we don’t have the highest voter registration in the city,” he said. He mentioned that African Americans still lag Whites in terms of income disparity, health outcomes and employment and those issues can be addressed through the political process.
“In this city, it comes down to who votes,” Sloan said.
Stanley Mayes is a Ward 1 resident and a member of the D.C. Democratic State Committee and is blunt about why Blacks should vote even though the District is a solid Democratic jurisdiction.
“It depends on what type of Democrat wins in this city,” Mayes told the AFRO. “Sometimes the wrong Democrats win in this city. We need Democrats on the D.C. Council that are concerned about issues affecting Black people in the city and not on the council just for the prestige.”
Mayes supports what Sloan and the District branch wants to do but he urges them to be cautious.
“The NAACP is a non-partisan organization,” he said. “They have to make sure that when they go into other states, they are strictly engaging in registering people to vote and not trying to show a favorite party affiliation as an organization. They don’t want to get into a pickle on this.”