On National Voter Registration Day, Black & Latino Communities Celebrate Thousands of New Voters on Long Island



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Steve McFarland, 516-366-0259steve@licivicengagement.org (Spanish & English)

On National Voter Registration Day, Black & Latino Communities Celebrate Thousands of New Voters on Long Island

Local Organizations & Advocates Mark National Day of Action with Major Electoral Push in African American, Latino and Immigrant Communities

BRENTWOOD, NY — With chants of “Our Voice, Our Vote” two dozen immigrant and worker advocates, backed by seventeen grassroots Long Island organizations, today celebrated National Voter Registration Day and announced over 2,000 new voter registrations collected in Black and Latino communities across Long Island. [Photos available for download here.]

The summer voter registration push, and today’s event for the National Voter Registration Day, were part of an escalating campaign by local community members and working-class and immigrant-advocacy organization to register and mobilize voters of color for crucial local elections on November 3rd. Advocates are working to win affordable housing, better schools and living wage jobs on Long Island.

Sonya Black, Suffolk County Organizer for New York Communities for Change, said, " With the work that we do within our communities, it is important for us to register voters. I suggest everyone go out and rock that vote because it is based on those issues and the supports of those who we are voting into office that make the difference in making the movement of bringing some type of change.

Frank Sprouse-Guzmán, a member of Make the Road New York, said, “Today, National Voter Registration day, is incredibly important because the vehicle of democracy moves with the power of voters. So I exhort I communities to remember that no matter how many protests and vigils we have for our rights to be respected, and to end the discrimination and injustice on Long Island, if we don’t also exercise our right to vote. This is our moment to say ‘no’ to the leaders who abuse us. We must use this right not only to fight for our children’s education, and to fight for all immigrants, but also to build a society of respect, and make our communities a better place to live."

“We’re proud to celebrate National Voter Registration Day, an unofficial national holiday, because our communities know that elections matter here on Long Island, and this year we have collected registrations of more than 2,000 Long Islanders in Black and Latino communities.” said Alejandra Sorto, Organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. “It’s not just presidential candidates talking about revoking birthright citizenship at the national level. Here on Long Island, we have critical local elections in November for Nassau District Attorney and Suffolk County Executive, and this voter registration effort is just the start of our work.”

Jessica Reyes, of SEPA Mujer, said, " Being part of the Movement Building Organizers program, we spent 6 weeks out in African American and Latino communities, like Brentwood and Hempstead, registering voters and informing them about the importance of voting in order to get the proper representation and change for our communities.

Leila Ensha, Public Affairs Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, said, “Here on Long Island, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic and Planned Parenthood of Nassau County are partnering with our patients, with communities of color, and with college students to help everyone, regardless of political leanings, seize their power and vote.  We are talking to hundreds of everyday Long Islanders and are actively helping people register to vote.  Planned Parenthood is ready to ensure that the voices of all under-represented populations are heard and their votes are counted.”

“For far too long, legislators on Long Island have contradicted the values of the pro-choice majority of voters in Suffolk and Nassau Counties,” said NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Andrea Miller. “NARAL Pro-Choice New York is thrilled to work alongside our progressive allies to ensure that the voting public best reflects Long Island’s pro-choice population.”

George Siberón, Executive Director of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, said, “We want everyone in our communities to register, and to come out and vote. It’s by voting that we win our right and make changes – including to push candidates to change the kind of rhetoric we’ve heard lately about immigration. The next president will appoint a new Supreme Court Justice, and those decisions last a lifetime. So let’s get out there to register, and then to vote!"

Blanca Villanueva, of the Alliance for Quality Education, said, “Every day, parents, students, and teachers fight hard to make sure our children have a high quality education in New York’s public schools. But although we fight hard, we are fighting against hedge fund billionaires who are trying to privatize our schools and our buying our legislators. Although we may never have billions of dollars, we have our voting power. This is why it is so crucial for us to register to vote, and to get out to vote – during primaries, special elections, in November. We must exercise our right to make sure our legislators represent our communities and our voices.”

Amol Sinha, Suffolk Couty Chapter Director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said, “Fifty years ago, the United States passed the Voting Rights Act. And still today, we’re fighting for that right. There are still those in power who are trying to make it more difficult for Americans to vote, especially in communities of color. And that’s why it’s so urgent for people to be registered, to organize, and for communities to voice their collective power to people in office. Today we’re here to do just that: to make sure our leaders know that this is what America looks like. It’s important to vote in local elections, to make sure the people whose policies most directly impact our lives hear our power.”

“It’s a mistake for people to think of citizenship and the right to vote as only creating a US identity. It creates a partnership between the people and their government. But a partner who is silent is no partner at all” said Sister Rosalie Carven, from the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Brentwood. “I encourage everyone to register to vote, and when you do vote, vote all the time, any time you can!”

“For communities to thrive, every individual, at every socio-economic level must have the opportunities to do so.” said Gwen O’Shea, President/CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. “Having elected officials that fight for economic and social justice allows for that opportunity.  Empowering individuals, in particular those most vulnerable, to use their vote as their voice, is a key component to achieving this.  We’re proud to be part of this collective effect that strives to ensure everyone’s voice and vote is heard.”