The Washington chapters of six civil rights organizations announced a voter registration drive yesterday aimed at putting 35,000 new voters on the rolls before the September primary elections.
The effort will concentrate on Wards 7 and 8 in Southeast and parts of Northeast Washington. It is part of a nationwide Voting Rights Act campaign led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that includes a number of rallies scheduled here next Wednesday.
Of 490,000 D.C. residents eligible to vote, about 291,000 are registered, according to a recent count prepared for the city by the Government Employees (Geico) Insurance Company.
City Council member Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large) announced the voter registration drive at a news conference at Shiloh Baptist Church, Ninth and P streets NW. He said the six civil rights groups will work under a new umbrella group to be called the Leadership Coalition.
The participants are the Washington branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, People United to Save Humanity (Operation PUSH), the SCLC, United Black Fund, Urban League and the Opportunities Industrialization Corporation.
Moore, who is president of the D.C. Chapter of PUSH, said yesterday that each organization will contribute what it can in funds and manpower, but there is no projected total cost. PUSH will focus on the District's 85 Baptist churches, "getting pastors to get their members to volunteer on their blocks and apartment buildings."
The Rev. J. Terry Wingate said the Washington SCLC chapter, which he directs, will send about 300 "pilgrims" to walk from door to door, conduct small meetings in living rooms and find out what discourages voters from turning up at the polls.
Washington Urban League Director Jerome Page said that, among other projects, his group will encourage 800 senior citizens who participate in daily programs to register and get their friends to register.