A group of unions, civic groups and advocacy organizations reports nearly doubling their goal in a recent voter registration drive targeting low-income and minority communities on Long Island.
The Long Island Civic Engagement Table announced last week that the coalition of 20 local groups registered 4,500 voters—2,000 more than originally planned. Daniel Altschuler, coordinator of LICET [also an organizer in Make the Road New York], said the larger goal is to make elected officials be more accountable to poor communities.
“Too many elected officials have ignored communities of color, immigrants, and low-income working families,” Altschuler said Thursday at the group’s Brentwood headquarters.
Coalition members cited new voter identification laws in some states and immigration becoming a hot campaign issue during the neck-and-neck race for the White House as some reasons for the registration drive.
“We’ve noticed the problems that people are facing in the community and the changes they want, which include: improving their quality of life, salaries, and laws that are just and protect the immigrant community,” said Isaias Tomaylla of Make the Road New York. The focus is now on educating the newly registered voters.
Marvin Smith, chair of the Islip Town branch of the NAACP, noted that laws in 19 states requiring voters to present identification at the polls on Election Day loom over New York. A similar bill was proposed in the State Legislature, he said.
“When voters anywhere are threatened, our rights here in New York are threatened,” Smith said, noting that his mother is not able to vote in another state because she wasn’t issued a birth certificate.
Patrick Young, program director of the Central American Refugee Center, added the local political process got more inclusive when English-to-Spanish translators were used in the Suffolk County executive debates last year.
Now, LICET and the organizations it’s partnered with have almost 5,000 doors to knock on before Nov. 6 to help educate the newly registered voters.
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