The Long Island Civic Engagement Table launched its summer voter registration drive today with a kickoff event in Patchogue. New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York, S.T.R.O.N.G. YOUTH, INC., SEPA Mujer, Long Beach Latino Civic Association, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY, The New York Immigration Coalition, Long Island Wins, and CARECEN were among the groups participating. The organizers are pushing for a major increase in voting in African American and immigrant communities this November.
With important races for County Executive in Suffolk and District Attorney in Nassau, community groups hope to capitalize on increases in voting rates among people of color in presidential years. Long Island has 290,000 immigrants who have become United States Citizens. This drive hopes to make new citizens into voters.
Marcy Suarez, Youth Organizer for Make the Road New York, said, “Our vote has the power to change our schools, our laws, and the way our government responds to the needs of low income, working class communities of color across Long Island that we organize. Our vote is the power we hold as a community. Many people fought hard and died for us to have the right to vote and we will be working hard from now until November to get people, especially young people, from our communities out to the polls”
Sonya Black, Suffolk Organizer for New York Communities from Change, told reporters that, “It’s important for our communities to get out and vote. That’s why NYCC is working across Nassau and Suffolk counties to register hundreds of voters and to knock on doors and speak to 11,000 voters of color this year about the issues at stake this election – from educational justice and police reform to fair housing and clean, healthy parks and neighborhoods. Working families are struggling on Long Island, but this voter registration campaign is the first step in winning sensible, progressive policy to get Long Island working for all.”
I was fortunate enough to be asked to speak as well on behalf of CARECEN. Here is what I said;
CARECEN works with hundreds of immigrants every year, to assist with naturalization and to help them become citizens. The number one reason our clients want to become citizens is so they can register to vote. Local elections are vitally important for Latino communities, and we are glad to be a part of this effort.
Alejandra Sorto, Organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, said, “Long Island’s Latino and African American community is growing, and as we grow we are building voter power, working to make sure that communities of color have a voice that elected officials cannot ignore. More than any other election, local policy affects our daily lives: whether county government speaks our language, or our children are safe from police brutality. We are registering over 3,000 voters this year and will work with them through the fall to make sure all our people vote for respect in November.”