Versión en español aquí
North Carolina, Raleigh – A coalition of local faith and community leaders, members of the North Carolina Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) asked the organization’s national authorities to repeat the 2021 State Conference elections.
The «Justice Coalition» ensures that the previous October elections were «unconstitutional» and plagued by alleged irregularities that affected the registration of candidates and the participation of local members and delegates.
The process, they affirm, was not fair or transparent and there was «suppression of the vote.»
In October 2021, a total of 37 delegates, candidates, and members from 12 North Carolina NAACP chapters signed an “electoral controversy complaint”, however, the complaint was dismissed.
The response, dated December 14, 2021, and signed by Derrick Johnson, NAACP CEO, states that the elements raised in the challenge are inadmissible and «would not change the outcome of the election.»
NAACP is a non-partisan organization, founded in 1909, that functions at the national level and that works for the defense of civil rights, against inequality, racism, social, economic, political, and cultural exclusion.
What happened in October 2021?
Deborah Dicks Maxwell, a military veteran, and retired social worker won the NAACP State Conference elections, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
The North Carolina NAACP State Conference was founded in 1940.
In the Oct. 23 ballots, Maxwell, who leads the NAACP chapter in New Hanover, won the election over the Rev. Anthony Spearman, who has chaired the North Carolina State Conference since 2017.
According to the official tally, Maxwell got 54% of the 186 votes cast by state delegates compared to 34% for Spearman. Gemale Black, president of the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP, received 11%.
In October, registered North Carolina NAACP members voted to elect officers, Executive Committee, and Delegates to the State Conference.
The members of the coalition formally contested the election, through a “Complaint of Article IX to the national office”, in accordance with the NAACP’s own statutes and Constitution.
According to the plaintiffs, during the October 2021 elections, more than 25 NAACP members eligible to vote in at least five affiliates in the state were prevented from exercising their rights.
Dozens of legal NAACP members, according to the challenge, «were deprived of their rights in this totally digitized process» since the digital, generational, disability, and literacy gap was not considered.
«Many members who have voted in every federal, state, county and NAACP election since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were treated unfairly» denounced the collation members.
Deadlines and procedures
The challenge dismissed by the national authorities also indicates that the formal deadlines and procedures established in the statutes were not followed by the same national administration.
«Despite the express rules of Article IX that establish the deadlines for notifications, the National Administrator of the NAACP and those who worked in conjunction with her were still working on who was eligible to vote».
During the weekend of the elections, they explained, two independent voting processes were carried out “with arbitrary notices” to two voting blocks.
- Election «I» began around 11:00 am digitally for those who had access to a phone or computer, but «the process was aborted two hours later, and all the ballots cast were discarded.»
- A few candidates favored by the NAACP’s national administration and those working in conjunction with it had access to a list of 260 to 300 eligible voters.
- Election “II” began around 1:01 pm, after many people voted in Election “I”.
- “Many believed their duty to the NAACP was over that day and probably still don’t know that their ballots were thrown away. Some were told that new elections would begin soon».
«There is no official record of the aborted election by the NAACP national administration and those who work in conjunction with it on this mysterious aborted election». the complaint states.
Before a query made by Enlace Latino NC, Reverend Cardes Brown, one of the spokesmen for the Coalition for Justice, said that they will continue to fight internally for the «mission of the NAACP and a democratic organization».
«At this point, we are very hopeful that our complaint will be properly addressed, considered, and resolved, and so we believe that we are moving forward», said Reverend Brown.
For now, leaving the NAACP and creating a local rift is not an option for the faith and community leaders who make up the coalition, despite the fact that, as Brown claimed, national authorities chose to ignore the allegations.
“It seems that some of our leaders at the national level turn out to be more autocratic and not follow the constitution and allow the democratic rule to guide day-to-day governance», Brown concluded.
Free and fair elections
The Rev. Anthony Spearman, who lost the October electoral process, recalled that on Election Day the first thing he did when he learned the result was to call candidate Maxwell to congratulate her.
However, this Friday, during a press conference called by the Coalition for Justice, he said he had «very serious concerns» after the alleged irregularities denounced by local leaders emerged.
«If the election is fair, free, then I will definitely participate and do everything I can to make sure we get our message across as it should be, but as these irregularities were found, it seems to be conclusive that the elections were not fair and free», Spearman stated.
Fair constitutional election
The faith and community leaders that make up the group of plaintiffs announced that they will insist on holding new elections with guarantees of real and effective participation for all members with the right to vote.
«We call for a fair constitutional election at the North Carolina NAACP State Conference of Affiliates, and that the national NAACP follows the organization’s bylaws and proper rules for electronic voting», reads a press release released by the Collation for Justice.
It is contradictory to coalition members for the NAACP to promote access to voting and electoral rights at the national level, but it is unable to guarantee constitutional elections in North Carolina, «the strongest and largest state conference in the nation».