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Long Island

Community advocates working together to get out the vote

Long Island community groups in Brentwood on Thursday launched a Get Out the Vote effort in an effort to make sure everyone is signed up to vote in the presidential election on Nov. 3. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Several Long Island community advocates announced Thursday they are working together in a get-out-the-vote campaign targeting 100,000 Blacks, Latinos and immigrants through phone calls and texting with an urgent message: "Voting matters."

On the eve of this Friday's deadline for New Yorkers to register to vote, several speakers gathered outside of the Brentwood office of Make the Road New York, an advocacy group for immigrants and working-class communities, urging New Yorkers to vote, and to vote early. Early voting in New York begins Oct. 24 and ends Nov. 1 while Election Day is Nov. 3.

They also urged Long Islanders to not just cast ballots for the president, but for those seeking congressional, state and local offices.

Those elected to office "are the people that are going to make decisions that affect our lives," said Shanequa Levin, founder and chief executive of the Women's Diversity Network on Long Island. "You need to put people in office that align with your views. ... This is a time that it matters. We're not just voting for a president."

Rodman Serrano, field coordinator for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, said of the get-out-the-vote campaign: "This is our effort to make sure our local residents on Long Island have the information that they need to vote safely and easily this year."

Serrano noted the election season comes during the COVID-19 pandemic that "has disproportionately harmed immigrants and Black communities. And at the same time we are seeing a national movement for Black lives and for racial justice and equity. For us this is an opportunity to make sure that all community members on Long Island, including the ones that are most affected by the coronavirus and racial injustice — make our voices heard loud and clear at all levels of government."

The community groups involved in the campaign are Make the Road New York, Long Island Civic Engagement Table, New York Communities for Change and Women's Diversity Network.

Eliana Fernandez, lead organizer at Make the Road New York, said in a statement: "With immigrant and working class communities under attack, we are more committed than ever to make sure our people have a voice in their community and country."

Serrano said "dozens" of community members have been enlisted to contact voters via phone calls or texting. And as Election Day grows closer, he added, "We expect to get dozens more."

Peggy Perkins of Hempstead, a community leader for New York Communities for Change, laid out the stakes in this election. "We are here to encourage our community, our family and our friends to go out and vote. ... 2020 is an important year for our communities to get involved and vote," she said.

Perkins added: Black, brown and immigrant communities "have been disproportionately impacted by COVID, loss of jobs and housing. And it is time that these issues of concern for our communities are addressed."

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