On Saturday, Caribbean American voters and community leaders came together on Zoom for a nonpartisan event aimed at increasing overall participation of Caribbean American voters in the 2020 Presidential Election.
The event featured a number of Caribbean American political leaders who provided attendees with information on how to vote, election protection resources, and the overall impact the Caribbean American community can have on the November 3rd election and beyond.
There are over 4.4 million Caribbean Americans who are eligible to vote and, with increased turnout, the community can help swing results in key states like Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
The event aimed to help Caribbean Americans actualize what can happen if we tap into that collective political power. “As Caribbean young leaders, we understand the importance of voting in any election and felt it necessary to host this get out the vote (GOTV) webinar to encourage our Caribbean American brothers and sisters to exercise their right to make their voices heard. We know that this is an important election and there are many items on the ballot that impact our Caribbean American community. It is important for us to arm voters with all the information they need to make informed decisions.” said Mona-Lee Belizaire, host committee member.
2020 is a critical year for democracy and the Caribbean American community. With issues like immigration, health care, and more at stake, no member of the community can afford to sit this election out. “If just a few thousand people decide to sit this one out, we are risking sacrificing our democracy” said Rep. Yvette Clarke. “As we continue to show up at the polls, show that we have a voice and that we will shape our democracy, we will be heard… your voices matter… As my mother would say, ‘we nah goin no place’… you have been given an opportunity to shape this nation.”
The community also needs to ensure voters have all of the information needed to vote safely, in unprecedented ways, demonstrating the full power of the Caribbean American vote in what we know will be one of the most important elections of our time.
“We have a unique opportunity as Caribbean Americans.. We are going from the group that is little talked about and now we have a real opportunity where that is changing” said Melissa Noel, Award-Winning Journalist.
But we need to start thinking about how to keep that attention on our community. “We are largely ignored or only tapped as we get closer to Election Day. That has changed because we have someone of Caribbean descent making history on the ballot, but we need to think beyond the election. We build political power as a community when we serve in leadership roles within the political parties, form Caribbean commissions in our states, and put money and time into the candidates who represent our interests” said Joanne Antoine, host committee member.
“There’s people who reach out to us during GOTV time in order for us just to vote and then after Election Day, we just go back to business as usual. We cannot do that, especially in 2020. Hopefully after all the years of Trump and Trumpism, we understand that we need to be an engaged population and engaged electorate every step of the way” said Maurice Mitchell, Working Families Party. “You can be a volunteer and inspire other people to vote even if you can’t vote because of your status.”
“We have to have more collaboration… We have to communicate more and we need to deliver. What does deliver look like… Are you donating money to the campaign you believe in? Are you volunteering, phone banking and text banking during this COVID-19 period? And are you voting?” said Marlon A. Hill, Miami Attorney.
“You can’t underestimate the power of literally flexing your muscles. Volunteering is worth its weight in gold.” said Anton Andrew, Candidate for PA State House, D160
With less than 15 days until Election Day, Caribbean American voters and others throughout the country have or will start voting in the next week.
“If you haven’t made a plan to vote, you need to make one today. Caribbean American voters should plan to vote early in-person or by mail. They should take advantage of nonpartisan resources like vote411 for information on the candidates and questions on their ballot. And if they experience issues voting, they should contact the nonpartisan election protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE” said D’shawna Bernard, host committee member.
Caribbean American voters should also be aware that it’s going to take longer to count the votes and verify a winner in this year’s election – and that’s okay. We need to be patient so election officials can take the time to make sure that every vote is counted.
“We should anticipate that in many swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Georgia that we will not see results on election night. We should also anticipate litigation” said Michele Jawando, Google. “Don’t be scared… if you voted early or by mail, you can go on your local board of election site and track your ballot.”
“With two weeks left, it’s essential that our community organizations, leaders and Influencers continue to educate and provide access to resources that galvanize and amplify the voices of the Caribbean American diaspora. As Caribbean Americans, we should feel empowered to express our right to vote. Make a plan today – get out and VOTE. It’s our voice, our vote, #itsOURfuture!” reminded Vanessa Butler, host committee member.