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LI civic groups tout efforts to increase black and Latino voter registration

A coalition of Long Island civic groups marked National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday by announcing efforts to increase voter registration among blacks and Latinos living in Nassau and Suffolk counties ahead of the upcoming November general election.

At a news conference in Brentwood, leaders for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, a Brentwood-based nonprofit that focuses on increasing civic participation, said activists had registered more than 2,000 voters in predominantly black and Latino communities on Long Island throughout the summer.

"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,"  said Alejandra Sorto, organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table.

National Voter Registration Day was founded in 2012 by a coalition of voters rights activists, and comes weeks before the state's deadline to register to vote in November.

The New York Board of Elections website lists Oct. 9 as the last day to register in time to vote in the November general election, when voters in Suffolk will decide between incumbent Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone and his Republican challenger James O'Connor.

In Nassau, voters will make their pick for county district attorney in a race that pits acting District Attorney Madeline Singas, a Democrat, against Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray.

Amol Sinha, Suffolk County Chapter director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, minorities are still "fighting for that right" and urged black and Latino voters to go out and vote.

"There are still those in power who are trying to make it more difficult for Americans to vote, especially in communities of color," Sinha said, referring to laws in other states that activists believe are aimed at curbing minority voting, including reducing early voting hours. "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."

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