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An Open Letter to Voters: Why Georgia Is Important To Black America

SANDY SPRINGS, GA - MARCH 06: "I'm a Georgia Voter" stickers are seen at a polling station in St Andrew Presbyterian Church March 6, 2012 in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Ten states, including Georgia, hold caucuses and primaries today for voters to pick their choices for the Republican presidential nominee. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

An Open Letter to Voters: Why Georgia Is Important To Black America

Black voters across the country turned out in unprecedented numbers with purpose and passion for the Nov. 3 General Election. Their overwhelming participation in one of the nation’s most important elections proved that Black votes count and Black voters matter.

We still have unfinished business, as all eyes are now on Georgia, where the results of a much anticipated and hotly contested Jan. 5 election runoff will impact the plight of African Americans and African American communities throughout the country. At the center of political discussions are the issues of socioeconomic justice, police reform, inclusion, empowerment and civil rights.

Despite well-documented attempts to suppress the Black Vote, the Black Press, along with national civil rights organizations and local grassroots efforts, fought to make sure voters were armed with the information necessary to make sure their ballots were cast and counted. This resulted in the largest voter turnout of Black people in a presidential election in the history of this country.

More than 940,000 mail-in ballots have been requested in Georgia for the Jan. 5 runoff election that will decide which party controls the Senate. Leading voting rights advocates in their efforts to avoid a multi-count election scenario, are imploring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to direct counties to restore and expand their early voting locations and hours, resolve technology problems, publish updated ballot status information, and add more ballot drop boxes ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff elections.

So, the job of the Black Press and Black voters is far from over. As publishers of nine of the nation’s leading Black newspapers – The Baltimore AFRO, Dallas Weekly, Houston Defender, Michigan Chronicle, New York Amsterdam News, Sacramento Observer, Seattle Medium, St. Louis American, and The Washington Informer – we are compelled to support our fellow publishers of Atlanta’s Black newspaper, The Atlanta Voice, in urging all Georgians – particularly Black voters – to stay engaged and to vote in the runoff election.

Georgia’s native son Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminds us that, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This is our call to action. Voters in Georgia cannot be silent: VOTE on Jan. 5 because what happens in Georgia will impact everyone in the U.S. and beyond, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or sexual orientation.

We must finish the fight in Georgia. The stakes are high, and every American is profoundly impacted by the outcome of these races. We need Georgians to elect leaders that will put Americans back to work, bolster small businesses to rebound from the effects of the pandemic, rescue families from evictions and foreclosures, provide appropriate PPE to frontline and essential workers, retain affordable healthcare, lower prescription drug costs, and restore our country’s prominence in the world.

Your vote will make a difference.

How?

Early voting in Georgia begins on Monday, Dec. 14 and ends on Friday, Jan. 1. Don’t delay, go to the polls and cast your vote.

For others across the country, remember it takes a village, and we all must do our part, including:

• Contact friends and family members who live in Georgia and make sure they are aware of important voting dates and deadlines.

• Encourage them to vote early and reach out to their extended network in Georgia to ensure they do the same.

• Volunteer to assist phone banks and safely distribute literature throughout the community if you decide to visit.

• Donate to non-partisan groups that have a strong history of voter engagement in Georgia.

We have the power to fight voter suppression, get souls to the polls, re-ignite the flame of our political clout in America, and create a narrative that provides the foundation for African Americans to fully participate in all aspects of the American dream.

More than 940,000 mail-in ballots have been requested in Georgia for the January 5 runoff election that will decide which party controls the Senate, Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting systems implementation manager, said Monday.

That includes 604,255 people who are eligible to receive mail-in ballots automatically, according to Sterling. For comparison, 1,322,529 absentee ballots were cast in November’s general election, according to a release from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Sterling said that 1,040 ballots have been returned so far, a “small trickle that we expect to get larger soon.”

Georgia voters are required to request absentee ballots again for the runoff, even if they voted absentee in November, except those over the age of 65, members of the military or physically disabled people who requested absentee ballots for the entire election cycle.

Georgia, we’re counting on you!

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©2019 Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine

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