Allies of fired NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. have launched bids to win control of the civil rights group's Baltimore and Chicago branches in elections this month.
But, in an apparent move to block the Chavis faction, the NAACP national board has ruled that youth members are ineligible to vote unless they pay adult dues.
Kobi Little, a 23-year-old former Johns Hopkins University NAACP leader, is challenging Rodney Orange, president of the Baltimore branch, in a Nov. 28 election.
In Chicago, Earl B. King, a former professional basketball player and president of the No Dope Express Foundation, is one of four candidates in a vote Saturday.
Both Mr. Little and Mr. King were with Dr. Chavis when he was fired Aug. 20 after making a secret deal to pay a former aide up to $332,400 in NAACP funds to avert a threatened sexual harassment lawsuit.
Mr. Little said he signed up 560 new members, many of them youths, for the Baltimore branch. George N. Buntin Jr., Baltimore NAACP executive director, said the branch has about 4,000 members, including the recent additions.
Mr. King signed up nearly 5,000 members in Chicago, including about 3,000 youths.
But an Oct. 21 NAACP memo to branches said the national board ruled Oct. 15 that young people aged 17-20 could vote only if they had paid adult dues of at least $10 a year. (Youth dues are $3.)
Mr. Little said he had received no official notice of the board's ruling. Mr. King says he may challenge the ruling in court if youth members aren't allowed to vote.
Another Chavis ally, the Rev. Wendell Anthony, won re-election this week as president of the Detroit branch, the NAACP's largest. Youth voting was not an issue in the election.