Eight community groups are joining forces in an effort to register thousands of working-class voters of color on Long Island to encourage more people to cast their votes on Election Day, organizers said.
Those behind the initiative have nine weeks to enlist as many potential voters as possible before Wednesday, Oct. 19, the New York State voter registration deadline, so they can be eligible to vote in the 2016 general election.
“Power belongs to the people, and we exercise it by voting,” said Shadley Hobour, an organizer with The Long Island Civic Engagement Table (LICET), a nonprofit committed to increasing civic participation in immigrant and communities of color across LI.
Voter turnout typically spikes in presidential election years and has nowhere to go but up since the 2014 mid-term elections, which saw the lowest turnout nationwide in 72 years. Congressional and New York State legislative races are also on ballots this fall.
Although New York has historically been a liberal stronghold and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is reportedly beating GOP rival Donald Trump in the state in recent polls, Empire State results will be closely watched, since both candidates call New York home.
Besides LICET, the Long Island voter registration drive coalition includes Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, SEPA Mujer, Choice For All, New York Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, and the League of Women Voters of Nassau County. In addition to immigrants’ rights, the groups separately advocate for a variety of issues, including women’s equality, affordable housing, workers’ rights and the environment.
“The right to vote is fundamental to the integrity and durability of our democracy,” said Jason Starr, Long Island director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“Public participation in voting is crucial in our democracy,” added Nancy Rosenthal, president of the League of Women Voters of Nassau County. “This partnership helps the League strive to register and educate as many people as possible.”