Congressional Black Caucus chair warns of GOP voter intimidation


    Congressman: Republicans will intimidate black voters


Congressman: Republicans will intimidate black voters 01:27

Story highlights

  • "We're playing offense and defense," Butterfield said
  • Butterfield expressed confidence the black vote would pick up in North Carolina

Washington (CNN)The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus accused Republicans Wednesday of wanting to intimidate African-American voters in North Carolina in order to "nullify their votes."

"The Republicans are saying that they're going to intimidate African-Americans on Election Day to try to nullify their votes. We're playing offense and defense," North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
Butterfield made the accusation as part of a discussion about African-American turnout in North Carolina, though he did not point to any particular incident. A message left with the Republican National Committee seeking response was not immediately returned.
    GOP nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly invited his followers to watch polling areas, and a federal judge has directed the RNC to provide information detailing "any efforts regarding poll watching or poll observation."
    The RNC is forbidden from engaging in any ballot security activities that might deter qualified voters from voting because of a decades-old consent decree that has been modified over the years and is set to expire at the end of 2017.
    White supremacists are also planning to organize nationwide to poll watch, according to a Politico report.
    "North Carolina is not sleeping," Butterfield, a Democrat, said. "We are wide awake in this election and our eyes are wide open. We are watching the Republicans every day."
    Early voting data show the share of the African-American vote is down in the Tar Heel State. At this point in 2012, the electorate was 67% white and 28% black. Today, it is 73% white and 23% black.
    But Butterfield, who said nearly 465,000 African-Americans in the state have already cast their ballots, expressed confidence the black vote would pick up.
    "The motivation is here," Butterfield said.
    President Barack Obama, a top Hillary Clinton surrogate who has been on the stump for the Democratic nominee, appealed to black voters Wednesday during a radio interview, warning that a Trump presidency would undo his eight-year legacy after he leaves office.
    Butterfield called the President's urging "hugely effective," adding that black voters "know so much is at stake" in this election.
    NAACP President Cornell William Brooks told Blitzer later Wednesday that his organization is working to help turnout African-Americans to vote in the 2016 election, noting the same concerns as Butterfield did.
    "African-American voters have a lot that they're facing in this election. That being said, it's also the measure of our determination," Brooks told Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "The NAACP may be working with duct tape and shoe string in some instances, but we are going to do what we have to do."
    He said that there's an "active campaign" to discourage African-Americans from voting, emphasizing later that Trump's rhetoric during the election has contributed to discouraging African-Americans from voting.
    "The ugliness that we've seen in this campaign is also an indication of the degree to which we've determined to turn out the vote," Brooks said. "I believe we're going to turn out the vote in significant numbers."
    He also said there needs to be resources to turn out the vote, such as staffing phone banks and making sure the digital outreach is sufficient.
    "We all as Americans have a stake in turning out the vote and to ensure that our values are on the ballot," he said.