Black Political Caucus disappointed with 'Souls to the Polls' turnout

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Black Political Caucus Chair Colette Forrest was anticipating a large African American voter turnout for Sunday's "Souls to the Polls" campaign.

She says the caucus sent word out for African American pastors to encourage their parishioners to go to the polls after service on Sunday. The poll numbers show a little more than 2,000 people voted on Souls to the Polls Sunday.

If you look at each precinct where there is a majority of black voters, the numbers didn't reach more than 150 people.

"Nervous and disappointed and scared," Forrest said of the turnout. "We did not turn out like we should have yesterday."

Forrest looked at the numbers and is concerned black voters will not participate in this election.

"I think voter apathy is happening," she said. "I think African Americans are tired. They have an inordinate amount of issues that they deal with on a daily basis."

The Black Political Caucus endorsed Vi Lyles for Charlotte mayor and is encouraging voters to say yes to a $922 million bond referendum that will build and renovate several Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

Forrest says early voting numbers looked good in precincts in South Charlotte. One precinct in the area had 292 voters on Sunday.

"I do not believe they're voting for Vi Lyles for mayor," Forrest said. "I don't believe they are voting for the bond campaign."

Forrest says she will connect with barber shops, black businesses and other entities to work on increasing the numbers.

"We've got to try to do something to excite and ignite our African American base and get us out to the polls to vote early," Forrest said.

While Forrest is busy working on increasing voter turnout among black voters, a minority organization is working hard to defeat Forrest's candidate.

The Women of Color, which is part of the Frederick Douglas Foundation, has endorsed Kenny Smith. The group met with each candidate and says Smith best represents their conservative values. The group says it has no problem not endorsing Vi Lyles, who is a woman of color.

"We judge someone by the content of their character, and not by their racial makeup," Frederick Douglas Foundation of North Carolina Vice President Valerie Johnson said.

Johnson is also concerned about people not showing up to the polls, but says her group will do their part to energize the voters.

"We have definitely done numerous things as far as grassroots efforts - making phone calls, knocking on doors, sharing his vision for Charlotte," Johnson said.

Forrest responded to the Women of Color not endorsing Vi Lyles.

"Every person - be it black, white, Hispanic or Asian - they have a right to endorse or support whatever candidate that they wish to, but they have to look at their record," Forrest said.

Early voting ends on Saturday, Nov. 4. The general election is November 7. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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