Building Community Power, One Vote at a TimeArab society in the United States has regularly been labeled a “one-issue” voting bloc. Unsurprisingly, this epithet comes from the familiar notion that when it comes to national politics our people formulate their electoral engagement—or lack thereof—purely according to issues of American foreign policy. During the past few months, AAA-NY has displayed its intention to bury that reputation, embarking on a voter registration project that aims to build community power by getting people in our neighborhood prepared vote on the local issues that matter.
The month of July proved to be a strong kick start, the Annual Arab American Bazaar being a primary point of success. On the 8th of July volunteers and canvassers managed to pull in over one hundred votes in just a few hours, proving that there are people in our community who do want to take part in the electoral process.
Whether or not Arabs are “one-issue” voters has arguably not stood the test of time. Like other recent immigrants to the United States, Arabs are often least likely to make it to the polls. In response to this reality AAA-NY has teamed up with other community organizations in Congressional District 13 to form the Verrazano Coalition. By collaborating with Make the Road Staten Island, Project Hospitality and El Centro, AAANY will be able to increase its capacity and effectiveness.
Voter registration canvassing teams have been hitting the streets of Bay Ridge with regularity. Youth energy has propelled these efforts, with our primary canvassing team being composed of keen and knowledgeable high school students. The evidence of their abilities can be found in the numerous videos and photos our Community Organizing Interns have taken and distributed through social media. Without their enthusiasm and commitment, our achievements thus far would be substantially more modest.
As a final part of our voter registration drive, look forward to our candidate’s forum on the 11th of October. People from the community will be able to directly address our representatives and understand their platforms and intentions. All in all, the entire project has been an illustration of this organization’s resourcefulness and tenacity.
And if you’re not registered to vote please come in today and ask to be registered. We’re all looking forward to seeing you at the polls!
Zayd Sifri, Voter Registration Fellow