As Mississippi’s extremely close Senate runoff vote takes place Tuesday between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the NAACP claims that it will send members to monitor the polls and ensure that black voters aren’t intimidated from casting a vote, according to The Associated Press.
Mississippi’s NAACP president, Derrick Johnson, says that he has received reports that the tea party and other conservative groups may send officials to intimidate black people from voting in the runoff.
“We’ll be on the lookout,” says Johnson. “Only poll workers have the right to question a voter, and questions from anyone else will be seen as a form of voter intimidation.”
Kaye Allen, a NAACP poll watcher at Tuesday’s election, states that “poll watchers have been around forever. It’s legal.”
To keep things from getting too out of hand, the Mississippi Secretary of State office and Attorney General office have both issued instructions to the poll watchers telling them where they must be located. According to Got News Wire, the poll watchers must be at least 30 feet outside the polling stations.
The NAACP may be incredibly interested in this race because it seems that black voters may play an important part in the outcome of the runoff. During the Mississippi runoff, voters who did not vote in the June 3 GOP or Democratic primaries are still allowed to vote in the runoff. Black voters in Mississippi are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican, and with Cochran nervous about his chances, he has been seeking the vote of black Democrats to vote for him in the runoff.
Chris McDaniel, Cochran’s opponent, is upset that Cochran is recruiting the vote of Democrats in the runoff. “It’s unfortunate. … The Republican Party has a primary for Republicans. That’s the way it’s designed, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
The NAACP may also be worried about this election because of Mississippi’s new voter ID law, which “they said could disenfranchise black and elderly voters.”