Voters in Hampton celebrate National Black Voter Day


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — At the historic courthouse in Hampton, members of the NAACP vowed to make history as Virginia launched in-person early voting for the 2020 presidential election.

The launch coincides with National Black Voter Day which is a first-ever effort to take the Black Lives Matter movement to the polls. To do it, 40 civil rights organizations have banded together to encourage minorities to register to vote and then vote as early as possible.

At polling places around the region, voters were proud to cast their ballots in a tumultuous political season that includes a pandemic that has killed a disproportionate number of minorities, allegations of vote-by-mail sabotage, Russian interference, and voter suppression.

Cassandra Alston Townsley shows off her “I voted” sticker in Hampton (WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

At the Hampton Registrar’s Office, Kim Borum gingerly escorted her father to the voting booth to make sure he could follow the process. She has spread the voting urgency message far and wide in her community while urging friends and neighbors to vote early.

“A lot people died for me to have the right to vote. We need to make some changes — so I had to vote today,” said Borum.

Hampton NAACP President Gaylene Kanoyton says National Black Voter Day welcomes all Americans but the target is the minority vote.

Hampton NAACP news conference on National Black Voter Day

In 2012 with Barack Obama on the ballot for his second term, the voter turnout national average was 57 percent overall, 58 percent for whites and 62 percent for Black Americans. Four years later for the Trump versus Clinton campaign, the national average was 56 percent overall, 58 percent for whites and 56 percent for Black Americans. That’s a 6 percent drop in Black voters from the previous presidential election.

Kanoyton doesn’t want to see history repeat itself. She predicts the 2020 turnout will eclipse Obama-era numbers.

“There was a lull in 2016 but 2020 we are going to see a large turnout,” said Kanoyton.

“I voted” sticker used in York Country

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