NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous Oct. 27 called for an end to deceptive and misleading campaign tactics designed to discourage voters from visiting the polls by both parties.
Jealous urged the change in tactics in letters he issued to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Democratic National Committee Chairman Gov. Tim Kaine.
The move came in response to a recent North Carolina Republican mailer to voters that distorted facts.
“This mailer is just the most recent campaign tactic that is meant to drive voters away from the polls rather than helping educate them and encouraging them to participate,” Jealous said in a statement. “It should not be in anyone’s political interest to drive down voter turnout, which undercuts the integrity of our hard-fought democratic right to vote.”
The GOP mailer sent to residents in Davidson County, N.C. criticized the state’s Racial Justice Act and distorted the effect of that legislation. The state law allows individuals on death row to have their sentence reduced to life in prison if they can prove that racial sentiments played a role in the decision to sentence them to death.
But the mailer falsely asserts that the law allows death row inmates to roam freely. The mailer also criticized North Carolina House Democrat Hugh Holliman, alleging that his vote for the law supported the parole of the death row prisoners.
The issue hits home for Holliman, whose daughter was abducted from her home and killed in 1985. His daughter’s killer was executed in 1998, according to the NBC affiliate MyNC News.com.
“I have never exploited the death of my daughter and the execution of her murderer for political gain, but I can’t stand here and let the state Republican Party in Raleigh say I am soft on crime,” Holliman said in a statement, according to MyNC News.
Holliman and North Carolina NAACP State Conference President Rev. William J. Barber III called for the letter to be repudiated and for State Republican Party Chairman Thomas Fetzer to apologize.
“We are very zealous in our efforts to stop race discrimination and dishonesty by political parties and operatives,” Barber said in a statement. “Honest debate is one thing, but deliberate dishonesty is another. Your sloppy research, your not-so-subtle appeal to racial fears, and your boorish behavior toward the Holliman family, who themselves suffered the great family tragedy of losing a daughter to a violent crime, are over-the-top.”
Fetzer has since issued an apology to the Holliman family saying he was unaware of Holliman’s daughter’s death.