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Activists try to take movement from the streets to the voting booth

NAACP, Urban League of Broward and Engage Miami want protesters’ passion to extend to elections

MIAMI – We’ve heard it from protestors throughout the demonstrations for racial equity — the call to channel engagement from the streets to the voting booth.

Civic organizations like the NAACP, the Urban League of Broward County and Engage Miami are working to focus this activism into action ahead of the local and national elections later this year.

“The diversity that’s in these crowds — we have got to move this from the idea of protest to being able to use our vote to put people in office that reflect our values,” said Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh of the Urban League of Broward County. “And if we don’t do that, shame on us. That is our job. That is a democracy at work.”

Census data tells us that, historically, voter turnout is greater with older Americans. But a silver of change can be seen. In 2016, the 18-to-29 age group was the only one to report an increased turnout compared to 2012 (+1.1%).

However, the black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election in 2016, falling to 59.6% after reaching a record-high 66.6% in 2012, according to Pew Research Center.

On Wednesday night, the Urban League of Broward County will be holding a virtual town hall titled “Mobilizing the Movement.”

The panel — which includes Smith-Baugh and Marsha Ellison, president of the NAACP of Fort Lauderdale/Broward — plans to “discuss the tragic events of recent weeks and specific actions needed to create lasting change.” (Click here for more details on the event.)

Meantime, Rebecca Pelham and Gilbert Placeres of Engage Miami are reminding young people to show up for both national and local elections.

“We have hugely important local elections this year,” said Placeres, Engage Miami’s organizing director. “The Miami-Dade mayor is term-limited, as are five out of 13 county commissioners. It’s really an opportunity [where] we’re going to get new local leadership at the county level. And there’s also very important state’s attorney elections.”

The group’s website is a call to action to never miss an election, adding “show up for your city and your future.” They say other civic engagement paths to change are participating in city and county commission meetings and budgetary hearings.

They are working to teach engaged demonstrators how to register to vote and share with them the upcoming election calendar.

“We have been working on harnessing this energy of the young people, certainly,” said the NAACP’s Ellison. "It was a great turnout, energy, goodwill, but that means not unless we have them complete the Census form, unless we get them registered and actually vote. ... When you are touched personally, you can see how your vote will actually count and how you just have to make a difference by voting.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

“Mobilizing the Movement” event: eventbrite.com/e/mobilizing-the-movement-tickets-108127353826

Engage Miami: engagemiami.vote and engage.miami/sign-up

NAACP of Fort Lauderdale/Broward: naacpftlbroward.com

NAACP of Miami-Dade: miamidadenaacp.com

Local 10 voter information guide: Local10.com/vote-2020/2020/01/09/local10com-2020-voter-information-guide/


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