National Voter Registration Day Sees Surge of Blacks, Latinos

Mike Clifford, Public News Service

NEW YORK – Grassroots groups announced Tuesday that they are getting ready for the fall elections by registering more than 2,000 new voters in working-class communities on Long Island.

More than a dozen organizations had volunteers out registering Long Islanders in communities of color.

Because some big recent elections were decided by a couple hundred votes, said Amol Sinha, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Suffolk County chapter, this drive can help ensure that candidates pay attention to the needs of minority voters and their communities.

“It’s important on Long Island, especially, because Long Island is one of the most segregated suburbs in the United States,” he said, “and people in communities of color oftentimes don’t see the government working for them.”

New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York were among the 16 groups that dispatched volunteers to help register more than 2,000 Long Island voters in time for Tuesday’s observance o fNational Voter Registration Day.

Since children don’t vote, said Shanequa Levin, director of Every Child Matters, it is important that their parents and people who care about children’s issues do register. That way, she said, they can demand action from candidates at election time on key issues.

“What are they going to do for children in regard (to) before-care and after-care, and quality education and subsidies, and things that children in our communities right here on Long Island need,” she said.

Sinha said there has been a long struggle to ensure that all people get the right to vote, adding that in New York and the nation, it’s important not to take those rights for granted.

“Fifty years ago, the United State passed the Voting Rights Act, which protected people’s right to vote,” he said, “and over the past few years we’ve seen attempts to take away that right from people, especially in communities of color.”

Originally published September 23, 2015 Public News Service