News

The Elections are Over! Now What? / ¡Las elecciones han terminado! ¿Y ahora qué?

(Image taken from “The Election is Over – Now What?”)

The Elections are Over! Now What?

Laura Jimenez

Georgians, we finally made it to the finish line of this election season. From the primary elections, to primary runoffs, to the general election, and finally to the January 5th runoff, we have endured the longest election cycle in the country this year. Even before the elections, we have, as a nation, begun seriously grappling with issues of race and social justice that have taken over our media consumption in unprecedented ways.

The year was a beautiful manifestation of what empowering the voice of the people can look like, regardless of the opinions held. 2020 has shown many of us the value of civic and political engagement, staying informed, and using our power as a single person to create a world that more of us would be proud of. Needless to say, though, all of these powerful lessons came at a high cost. After months of receiving countless pamphlets in the mail, signing petitions, scrolling through thousands of news articles, and standing in line at the polls, most of us are exhausted. Civic engagement burnout is real and it’s happening to us at alarming rates. Wanting to disconnect from it all after a year of so much participation, voluntary or involuntary, is normal.

However, there are issues and movements that survive this election season that will continue to require our attention. So then, how do we balance this need to disconnect with this duty to stay connected? Here are some tips from a person who constantly needs to remind herself that there’s life outside of civic engagement and politics.

First and foremost, a habit that might be necessary but most difficult to employ is to intentionally set times to inform yourself. Knowing the issues is important, don’t get me wrong. The fact that it consumes so many areas of your life, however, is the reason civic engagement fatigue is so pervasive. This should decrease significantly as the news about the runoff begins to quiet down, but continuing to limit your news intake to tolerable levels is important.

One way to do this might be to control the sources you receive information from (Aleman, 2020). For me, one of the hardest pills to swallow is that my engagement burnout is typically self-inflicted. I consume more Twitter and Facebook politics than I’m proud of, and I know that this is the case for many people. From reading through and participating in heated discourse in the comments to sorting through misinformation, staying informed about politics through social media is exhausting and seldom fruitful.

Commit yourself to finding information in places that don’t raise your blood pressure in the way that social media does. There are plenty of secondary sources that provide more objective information that keeps you educated and helps you develop opinions that are substantiated by fact. In addition to this, social media is a place where you can easily surround yourself with sources that continue to support your beliefs. By actively having to seek better sources, you open yourself to the possibility of not only understanding your stances on the issues, but the stances of others as well. It’s a win-win, both for your knowledge of the world around you and for your personal mental health.

Speaking of mental health, do you remember what your mental health was like before 2020 brought a pandemic, lockdowns, and a rowdy election cycle? Sometimes, I don’t either. A simple thing that might be necessary to return to as this new year begins is indulging in the things that spark joy for us. Sure, we need to stay informed to know how we can be agents of change in our communities. We can still do that though, while finally learning how to make those garlic and chives bread rolls we saw a tutorial for months ago. We can still engage civically while giving ourselves time to disconnect over a video of astronauts critiquing space movies. We must remember what it’s like to be ourselves despite the things around us that demand our attention. Learning how to set these boundaries for yourself will allow you to stay energized for the things that matter while maintaining a healthy balance with the things that make your life happier (Aleman, 2020).

As I have learned how to prioritize my mental health while staying engaged civically and politically, I have found that one of the most beneficial practices was practicing proactivity, not reactivity. This has been easiest for me to accomplish in the realm of local engagement. When we read news about politics, it is difficult to find where it is you fit into the equation. Sometimes, your single vote seems insignificant in the sea of millions of votes. This feels especially true when the primary source of engagement comes from reacting to news that gets updated on what feels like a minute-to-minute basis.

What I discovered, from my time at GALEO especially, was that if I devote my time doing versus reacting to what is done, I feel much more accomplished. Being able to see the fruits of my work and know that what I am doing is making a difference has changed the game for me entirely. Focusing on how my actions and my vote directly affects the community around me is invigorating and gives you clear, defined goals. I cannot recommend this enough. Pick an issue you’re passionate about, and put yourself in a position to actively and intentionally do something about it. That might look like joining and volunteering for a special interest group, joining a campaign during the next election cycle, or even taking advantage of resources provided by GALEO. Tie your service and engagement to your passions, and I can assure you that there is very little that will wear you out.

As my time as an intern at GALEO comes to a close, I take these lessons with me to my future ventures. As exhausting as this year was for all of us, I am excited to continue the work that needs to be done in our communities while remembering to be kind to myself. Inciting change requires energy, momentum, and a lot of balance. I hope that these tips are gentle reminders that allow us to more successfully embark on journeys that lead to better versions of ourselves and of our communities.

—————

¡Las elecciones han terminado! ¿Y ahora qué?

Laura Jiménez

Georgianos, finalmente llegamos a la línea de meta de esta temporada electoral. Desde las elecciones primarias, las eliminatorias primarias, las elecciones generales y, finalmente, la segunda vuelta del 5 de enero, hemos soportado el ciclo electoral más largo del país este año. Incluso antes de las elecciones, como nación, hemos comenzado a pensar seriamente en cuestiones de raza y justicia social que se han apoderado de nuestro consumo de entretenimiento de manera sin precedentes.

El año fue una hermosa manifestación del poder de la voz de la gente, independientemente de las opiniones mantenidas. El 2020 nos ha mostrado a muchos de nosotros el valor del compromiso cívico y político, manteniéndonos informados y usando nuestro poder como una sola persona para crear un mundo del que más de nosotros estaríamos orgullosos. No hace falta decir, sin embargo, que todas estas poderosas lecciones tuvieron un alto costo. Después de meses de recibir innumerables panfletos en el correo, firmar peticiones, recorrer miles de artículos de noticias, y estar en fila en las urnas, la mayoría de nosotros estamos agotados. El desgaste cívico es real y nos está pasando a un ritmo alarmante. Querer desconectarse de todo después de un año de tanta participación, voluntaria o involuntaria, es normal.

Sin embargo, hay cuestiones y movimientos que sobreviven esta temporada electoral que seguirán requiriendo nuestra atención. Entonces, ¿cómo equilibramos esta necesidad de desconectarnos con este deber de permanecer conectados? Aquí hay algunos consejos de una persona que constantemente necesita recordarse a sí misma que hay vida fuera del compromiso cívico y la política.

En primer lugar, un hábito que podría ser necesario pero más difícil de emplear es fijar intencionalmente los tiempos para informarse. Tener conocimiento de los problemas sociales es importante, no me malinterpreten. El hecho de que consuma tantas áreas de su vida, sin embargo, es la razón del desgaste cívico. Esto debería disminuir significativamente a medida que las noticias sobre la segunda vuelta comienzan a calmarse, pero continuar limitando su ingesta de noticias a niveles tolerables es importante.

Una forma de hacerlo podría ser controlar las fuentes de las que recibes información (Aleman, 2020). Para mí, mi agotamiento cívico es típicamente auto-infligido. Yo consumo más política de Twitter y Facebook de lo que estoy orgullosa, y sé que este es el caso de muchas personas. Desde leer y participar en una acalorada discusión en los comentarios hasta leer mucha desinformación, mantenerse informado sobre la política a través de las redes sociales es agotador y rara vez fructífero.

Comprométete a encontrar información en lugares que no eleven tu presión arterial de la manera en que lo hacen las redes sociales. Hay un montón de fuentes secundarias que proporcionan información más objetiva que te mantiene educado y te ayuda a desarrollar opiniones que se fundamentan en hechos. Además de esto, las redes sociales son un lugar donde puedes rodearte fácilmente de fuentes que continúan apoyando tus creencias. Al tener que activamente buscar mejores fuentes, te abres a la posibilidad no solo de entender tus propias posturas sobre los temas importantes, sino también las posturas de los demas. Todo el mundo gana, tanto por su conocimiento del mundo que le rodea como o su salud mental personal

Hablando de salud mental, ¿recuerdas cómo era tu salud mental antes de 2020 trajo una pandemia, encierros, y un ciclo electoral caótico? A veces, yo tampoco. Una cosa simple que podría ser necesaria para restaurar nuestra salud mental es disfrutar de las cosas que nos traen alegría. Claro, necesitamos estar informados para saber cómo podemos ser agentes de cambio en nuestras comunidades. Todavía podemos hacer eso, pero tal vez también finalmente puedas aprender a hacer los rollos de pan de ajo y cebollino que viste en un tutorial hace meses. Todavía podemos participar cívicamente mientras nos damos tiempo para desconectar sobre un video de astronautas criticando películas hechas acerca del espacio. Debemos recordar lo que es ser nosotros mismos a pesar de las cosas que nos rodean que demandan nuestra atención. Aprender a establecer estos límites por ti mismo te permitirá mantenerte energizado para las cosas que importan mientras mantienes un equilibrio saludable con las cosas que hacen tu vida más feliz (Aleman, 2020).

A medida que he aprendido a priorizar mi salud mental mientras me mantengo comprometida cívica y políticamente, he encontrado que una de las prácticas más beneficiosas era practicar la proactividad, no la reactividad. Esto ha sido más fácil de lograr en el ámbito del compromiso local. Cuando leemos noticias sobre la política, es difícil encontrar dónde encajas en la ecuación. A veces, tu voto parece insignificante en el mar de millones de votos. Esto se siente especialmente cierto cuando la principal fuente de compromiso proviene de reaccionar a noticias que se actualizan constantemente.

Lo que descubrí, especialmente en mi tiempo en GALEO, fue que si dedico mi tiempo a hacer en cambio de reaccionar, me siento mucho más realizada. Ser capaz de ver los frutos de mi trabajo y saber que lo que estoy haciendo está haciendo una diferencia ha cambiado el compromiso cívico para mí por completo. Centrarse en cómo mis acciones y mi voto afectan directamente a la comunidad que me rodea es vigorizante y te da metas claras y definidas. No puedo recomendar esto lo suficiente. Elige un tema que te apasione y ponte en posición de hacer algo al respecto de manera activa e intencional. Eso podría significar unirse y ser voluntario para un grupo de interés especial, unirse a una campaña durante el próximo ciclo electoral, o incluso aprovechar los recursos proporcionados por GALEO. Ata tu servicio y compromiso a tus pasiones, y puedo asegurarte que hay muy poco que te canse.

A medida que mi tiempo como pasante en GALEO llega a su fin, llevo estas lecciones conmigo a mis futuras aventuras. Aunque este año fue agotador para todos nosotros, me emociona continuar el trabajo que se necesita hacer en nuestras comunidades mientras recuerdo que mi salud mental también debe ser priorizada. Incitar al cambio requiere energía, impulso y mucho equilibrio. Espero que estos consejos sean recordatorios suaves que nos permitan embarcarnos con más éxito en viajes que nos lleven a mejores versiones de nosotros mismos y de nuestras comunidades.

Works Cited

Aleman, L. (2020, June 24). 4 Steps to Dealing with Political Burnout. Retrieved January 03,

2021, from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/4-steps-to-dealing-with-political-burnout/

The Election is Over – Now What? (2020, October 30). Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.columbiajewish.org/events/14751/

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org.  

NOTA: Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son sólo las opiniones del autor. No es de suponer que las opiniones sean de GALEO o el GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. Para la posición oficial sobre cualquier tema de GALEO, por favor contacte a Jerry González, CEO de GALEO en jerry@galeo.org.

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Georgia Voter ID Laws Impact on Latinx communities / El impacto que las leyes de identificación de votantes de Georgia tienen en las comunidades latinas

By Giselle Simental

The movement to suppress minority voters from exercising their legal rights has taken on a new name. Voter Identification Laws have been enacted in multiple states with Georgia being one of the strictest.

But what are Voter Identification Laws? Per the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Voting Identification laws say that, “voters must present one of a limited set of forms of government-issued photo ID in order to cast a regular ballot – no exceptions”.

These laws were enacted to target minority communities. How? Voter ID laws are strict. The minority community

tends to have very distinct names. Names that could potentially be messed up with a single letter. If the voter shows up to the polling place and their name is off by one letter, the voter will be turned away.

Also, minority voters disproportionately lack IDs. Nationally, up to 25% of African-American citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of whites (ACLU).

Voter ID laws reduce turnout among minority voters. Several studies, including a 2014  Government Accountability Office (GAO)  study, have found that photo ID laws have a particularly depressive effect on turnout among racial minorities and other vulnerable groups, worsening the participation gap between voters of color and whites.

Next time you find yourself renewing your government ID, please make sure to double check your information, and most importantly, your name.

Spanish

El movimiento para impedir que los votantes minoritarios ejerzan sus derechos legales ha adquirido un nuevo nombre. Leyes de Identificación de Votantes han sido promulgadas en varios estados, con Georgia siendo un de los más estrictos.

Pero, ¿qué son las Leyes de Identificación de Votantes? Según la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles (American Civil Liberties Union, o “ACLU”), las leyes de Identificación de Votantes dicen que, “los votantes deben presentar uno de un conjunto limitado de formas de identificación con foto emitida por el gobierno para emitir una boleta regular – sin excepciones”. (ACLU)

Estas leyes fueron promulgadas para atacar a las comunidades minoritarias.

¿Cómo? Las leyes de identificación de votantes son estrictas. La comunidad minoritaria tiende a tener nombres muy distintos. Nombres que potencialmente podrían ser confundidos con una sola letra. Si el votante aparece en el lugar de votación y su nombre está mal por una letra, el votante será rechazado.

Además, los votantes minoritarios carecen desproporcionadamente de identificación. A nivel nacional, hasta el 25% de los ciudadanos afroamericanos en edad de votar carecen de identificación con foto emitida por el gobierno, en comparación con sólo el 8% de los blancos (ACLU).

Las leyes de identificación de votantes reducen la participación entre los votantes minoritarios. Varios estudios, incluyendo un estudio de Oficina de Responsabilidad Gubernamental   (Government Accountability Office, o “GAO”,   2014)  han encontrado que las leyes de identificación fotográfica tienen un efecto particularmente depresivo en la participación entre las minorías raciales y otros grupos vulnerables, empeorando la brecha de participación entre los votantes de color y blancos.

La próxima vez que usted se encuentre renovando su ID de gobierno, por favor asegúrese de revisar su información, y lo más importante, su nombre.

Sources

https://www.aclu.org/other/oppose-voter-id-legislation-fact-sheet

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org.  

 

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Undocumented People Are Unable to Vote but Continue to Mobilize and Impact U.S. Elections

(Image from PBS)

by Jennifer Manzano, Fall 2020 Intern

The right to vote is deeply embedded in the core principle of the United States. Many of us grow up hearing how people have historically fought for this right through actions such as the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage Movements. Voting is broadcasted as a right and duty of citizens to adhere to our democratic system and hold the power in change that is to cast a vote. However, to over 11 million people in the U.S., the act of standing at a voting poll to submit a ballot is not obtainable nor the reality. With over 11 million people who are undocumented and approximately 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, roughly 3 percent of the U.S. population is ineligible to exercise the act of voting for a candidate.

Much how immigrants have historically created their own light at the end of a tunnel, not having this traditional ability to elect their representatives has not silenced our undocumented community. Many have taken this matter into their own hands and created their own path to amplifying their voices and ensuring they have a say in what happens during elections. Seeing the grassroot movement in a heavy election period such as in 2020 is nothing new; undocumented youth and immigrants are often the first to mobilize and be at the frontline to impacting their communities. These courageous acts often come with the risk of arrest and great vulnerability to being open about personal stories and experiences.

A study conducted by the organization United We Dream found that 94.4 percent of DACA recipients reported that they were planning to encourage friends and family to vote in upcoming elections. This study found that 46.1 percent of DACA recipients have increased their political involvement after receiving DACA. Nationally, initiatives by immigrant organizations have been a key to encouraging and increasing undocumented peoples’ political involvement. Advocacy groups such as Aliento Votes (based in Arizona) and Here to Stay Squad (a campaign under United We Dream) have recruited over 95,000 people to mobilize and stress the importance of voting for upcoming elections.

With reaching millions of eligible voters through phone banking, canvassing, conversations, teach-ins, and other voter reach innovations, undocumented people are refueling our nation’s stance on voting while educating their peers. Our undocumented community refuses to be silenced by the policies in place. Instead, it continues to achieve what was once thought to be unbelievable.

How to Support Undocumented People During an Election Period?

1. Don’t ignore harmful policies or rhetoric surrounding immigration

During elections, we all have policies that are first on our mind and at the top of our priority list. However, don’t allow your priorities to completely ignore the reality and status of others. Make time to educate yourself and even question “How can I create allyship?”.

2. Support people who want to use their voices during the elections

This can be done in a variety of ways but the foundation of this is to simply listen. Actively have these important conversations regarding policies and elections to hear their perspective and knowledge on the topics at hand. You can even go so far as to create a space for these conversations or join them in the act.

3. Check-in

Elections can be emotionally heavy and draining. Especially if your peers are out in the field speaking to hundreds of people a day. Take a moment to check-in on these individuals and see if there is anything you can do to aid them.

Immigration Advocacy Organizations to Check Out

  • Aliento
  • Mijente
  • Movimiento Cosecha
  • NYSYLC
  • United We Dream

Sources

Hancock, C., Smith, C., Svajlenka, N. Young voters have the power to support dreamers this November. Center for American Progress. October 2018.

Home | Latino Americans. (n.d.). Retrieved January 05, 2021, from http://www.pbs.org/latino-americans/en/

Munoz, Jose. Even with COVID-19 and changes to DACA, DACA recipients are civically engaged ahead of the elections. United We Dream. Oct 2020.

Williams, Amanda. These DACA Recipients Can’t Vote, But They Want To Make Sure

You Do. NPR. Oct 2020.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org.  

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Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO’s CEO, named as one of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” in 2021

Norcross, Georgia, January 4, 2021 – For a ninth time, Georgia Trend Magazine has named Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO, as one of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2020.

“On behalf of GALEO’s Board of Directors, we congratulate Jerry for being recognized as one of Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Georgians. Georgia Latino turnout increased by more than 70% in 2020 compared to 2016, and it was partly due to GALEO’s work under Jerry’s leadership. We are proud of Jerry and excited about his continued leadership in our community. His recognition in Georgia Trend Magazine is well-deserved,” said Jason Esteves, Chair of GALEO Chair of the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education.

The list also added and kept several other Latinx leaders: Angel Cabrera, President, Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. Carlos Del Rio, Hubert Professor and Chair, Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Professor of Medicine, Emory University; and Ivan Shammas,General Manager & General Sales Manager, Telemundo Atlanta.

From Georgia Trend Magazine, January 2021:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.

His words are as applicable today as they were when he wrote them in 1963, as the world continues to face the challenges and controversies of pandemic, economic recession and political fighting.

Some of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” list includes:

  • Stacey Abrams, Founder & Chair, Fair Fight Action
  • Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines
  • Gary Black, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Agriculture
  • Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor, City of Atlanta
  • Paul Bowers, Chair & CEO, Georgia Power
  • Karen Bremer, CEO, Georgia Restaurant Association
  • Angel Cabrera, President, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Chris Carr, Attorney General of Georgia
  • Ben Chestnut, Co-founder & CEO, MailChimp
  • Chris Clark, President & CEO, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
  • Danah Craft, Executive Director, Georgia Food Bank Association
  • Dr. Carlos Del Rio, Hubert Professor and Chair, Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Professor of Medicine, Emory University
  • Geoff Duncan, Lt. Governor of Georgia
  • Jerry Gonzalez, CEO, GALEO
  • Steve Gooch, Majority Whip, Georgia Senate
  • Jan Jones, Speaker Pro-Tempore, Georgia House of Representatives
  • Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia
  • Milton Little, President & CEO, United way of Greater Atlanta
  • Nick Masino, President & CEO, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce
  • Sharon Mason, President & CEO, Cobb Chamber of Commerce
  • Harold Melton, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Craig Menear, Chair, CEO & President, The Home Depot
  • Butch Miller, President Pro-Tempore, Georgia Senate
  • Felicia Moore, President, Atlanta City Council
  • Jeffrey Parker, CEO & General Manager, MARTA
  • David Perdue, U.S. Senator
  • Tyler Perry, Actor, Director, Producer, Writer, Philanthropist, Founder, Tyler Perry Studios
  • James Quincy, President & CEO, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Brad Raffensperger, Secretary of State, Georgia
  • David Ralston, Speaker, Georgia House of Representatives
  • Dr. Robert Redfield, Director, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • David Shafer, Chair, Georgia Republican Party
  • Ivan Shammas,General Manager & General Sales Manager, Telemundo Atlanta
  • Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer, Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Michael Thurmond, CEO, DeKalb County
  • Carol Tome, CEO, UPS
  • Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Health
  • Kyle Waide, President & CEO, Atlanta Community Food Bank
  • Nikema Williams, Congresswoman, U.S. House of Representatives and Chair of the Georgia Democratic Party

Read more online:

https://editions.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?m=8924&i=687988&view=articleBrowser&article_id=3843503

Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO & the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund biography is online here:

https://galeo.org/jerry-gonzalez-galeo-executive-director/

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PRESS RELEASE: Re: Increase Ballot Drop Boxes to Ensure the Right to Vote in Georgia’s Runoff Elections

December 21, 2020

Honorable Brad Raffensperger

Georgia Secretary of State

214 State Capitol

Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Increase Ballot Drop Boxes to Ensure the Right to Vote in Georgia’s Runoff Elections

Copied to:  All Georgia County Election Supervisors

Dear Secretary of State Raffensperger:

We write to urge you to direct Georgia’s County Election Supervisors to install secure ballot drop boxes and make them accessible to all eligible voters in the state so that they can safely exercise their right to vote in the January 5th runoff elections.

We are grateful for your responsible leadership prior to the November 3 general election, during which, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, you encouraged eligible voters in Georgia to use absentee voting, including through the use of ballot drop boxes . However, based on a data analysis conducted by the non-partisan human rights organization Human Rights Watch, the inequities in drop box access in the state are pronounced.

The county in which a Georgia citizen resides should not determine whether they can safely cast their ballot. The current distribution of ballot drop boxes in the state creates unequal access to the right to vote in the state. In fact, 15 counties in Georgia do not have a single drop box. Of counties with drop boxes, Henry, Forsyth, Columbia, and Coweta counties are the four least accessible, with just one ballot drop box for 100,000 – 150,000 eligible voters in each county. Quitman, Webster, Clay, and Baker counties are the four most accessible, with one for every 2,000 eligible voters. Figures 1, 2, and 3 enclosed below show the extreme maldistribution of drop boxes between Georgia counties.

As you know, the new Covid-19 case rate in Georgia is increasing in many counties, yet many of these counties have an extreme shortage of accessible ballot drop boxes. Figure 4 below shows the counties with the highest rates of Covid-19 new case rates, using data from mid-November. Out of the 30 counties in Georgia with the highest rates at that time, the vast majority (22 counties) have only one ballot drop box. Two counties out of the 30 do not have a single drop box.

Ballot drop boxes have been used in the United States for decades. As you have recognized, they offer a very efficient means by which voters can have visual confirmation that their ballots have been cast, but they avoid the crowds, wait times, and proximity between people that can characterize in-person voting at polling stations, and which is not advisable due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, there are many counties in Georgia in which people have to travel extremely long distances in order to cast their ballots safely. This argues for an increase in the number of ballot drop boxes in many counties in the state. As illustrated in Figure 5, below, of the 30 geographically largest counties in the state, about three-quarters, or 22, had only one drop box. An extreme example is Burke County, with one drop box per 827 square miles. One large county, Meriwether, does not have a single drop box. In Georgia, according to 2017 data, 7 percent of all households and 12 percent of Black households did not have access to a vehicle, making these distances especially problematic for absentee voters, given the lack of public transport, especially in rural areas.

Regardless of where they live in Georgia, whether they are rural or urban, Black or white, and regardless of political party, all voters deserve equal access to safe and secure voting. We urge you to work with county officials throughout the state to install more ballot drop boxes and ensure that they are accessible at all times so voters with varying schedules can cast their ballots when they are able to do so.

Please do not hesitate to contact Alison Parker, managing director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch at parkera@hrw.org or (917) 535-9796 should you have any questions regarding this letter. The data tables and full data set can be accessed by following this link: https://media.hrw.org/preview/2627/us-ensure-equitable-voting-access-in-georgia-runoffs/eng .

Sincerely yours,

 

Alison Leal Parker

Managing Director,U.S. Program

Human Rights Watch

parkera@hrw.org

415-801-7305

917-535-9796

 

Aklima Khondoker

Georgia State Director

All Voting is Local

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

aklima@allvotingislocal.org

678-628-8298

 

Pichaya Poy Winichakul, Staff Attorney

Voting Rights Practice Group

SPLC Action Fund

PO Box 1287

Decatur, GA 30031-1287

poy.winichakul@splcenter.org

470-597-3010

 

Alicia Stallworth

Georgia State Director

Planned Parenthood Southeast

Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates

Alicia.stallworth@ppse.org

 

Jerry Gonzalez

Chief Executive Officer

GALEO & GALEO Latino CommunityDevelopment Fund

Board Member of the GALEO Impact Fund, Inc.

jerry@galeo.org

 

Susannah E. Scott, President

League of Women Voters of Georgia

susannah@lwvga.org

 

 

cc: All Georgia County Election Supervisors, via email

Enclosed: Data Figures

 

 

Data Figures: Inequities in Eligible Voters’ Access to Ballot Drop Boxes in Georgia 

Figure 1 – Distribution of Georgia Ballot Drop Boxes

Number of Ballot Drop Boxes in County  Number of Georgia Counties in Category  Eligible Voters Living in Counties  Percentage of Eligible Voters Living in Counties 
0 15 149,921 2%
1 107 2,494,837 33%
2-5 28 1,781,461 24%
6-10 4 574,930 8%
>10 5 2,536,813 34%

 

Figure 2 – Map of Georgia Ballot Drop Box Distribution by County

Figure 3.

Figure 4.

 

Figure 5.

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PRESS RELEASE: Voting Advocates Urge Hall County, Georgia to Maintain Early Voting for January Runoff

For Immediate Release
December 17, 2020
CONTACT
Ella Wiley: ewiley@naacpldf.org
Elianne Ramos: eramos@latinojustice.org
Travis Abercrombie: travis@allvotingislocal.org

Voting Advocates Urge Hall County, Georgia to Maintain Early Voting for January Runoff

Yesterday, Latino Justice (PRLDEF), the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia), GALEO, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Hispanic Federation, MiJente Support Committee, All Voting is Local, Georgia, and ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the Hall County Board of Commissioners, Hall County Board of Elections and Registration, and the Hall County Director of Elections expressing concern about early voting access for the January 5, 2021 runoff election.

The letter follows a decision from Hall County election officials to eliminate half of the county’s early voting locations, transitioning from eight locations used for the 2020 general election to only four locations for the 2021 runoff. The polling closures disproportionately burden voters of color as many of these locations are in Black and Latino communities. The closures also increase voters’ risk to COVID-19, which has disproportionately affected Black and Latino communities, resulting in crowds at polling sites, long lines, and forcing voters to choose between their health and their right to vote.
Hall County is one of several counties in Georgia to announce polling site closures. For example, Cobb County also announced major cuts to early voting locations, resulting in pressure and criticism from the public and voting rights advocates.

“Failing to reopen the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center Activity Hall and Murrayville Library early voting sites is a direct blow to the Latino vote in Hall County,” said Miranda Galindo, Senior Counsel at PRLDEF. “The communities in Oakwood and along the SR 60 corridor south of Gainesville have no safe public transportation options and the closure of this site is especially harmful to voters living below the poverty level who are less likely to have access to a vehicle.”

“Hall County’s decision to eliminate half of its early voting sites is deeply concerning and will be especially harmful to voters of color,” said Michael Pernick, Georgia State Lead for LDF’s Prepared to Vote and Voting Rights Defender Projects. “It is imperative that Hall County’s election officials fulfill their responsibility to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their constitutional right to vote and restore the closed sites for the remainder of the early voting period.”

“During a pandemic, voters need more options to vote rather than less options,” said Jerry Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer at GALEO. “Hall County elections officials should ensure that minority voters have equal access to exercising their right to vote.”

“The Georgia Senate runoff elections highlight the importance of every election and the power of every vote,” said Frankie Miranda, President and CEO of Hispanic Federation. “With our nation still grappling with its history of disenfranchisement of voters of color, those charged with ensuring our elections are free and fair should do all they can to enable full voter participation. By closing half of the early voting locations used only weeks ago—particularly in communities with high numbers of Black and Brown voters—Hall County officials risk sowing confusion and doubt in the electoral process at a time when the entire nation is counting on the efficacy of our democratic system. We strongly encourage Hall County to do the right thing and reverse this decision.”

“Now more than ever, voters need safe, available, and equitable access to the ballot—closing voting sites in Black and Latinx communities is not the answer,” said Aklima Khondoker, Georgia State Director of All Voting is Local. “Access to the ballot should never be determined by the whim of county representatives but must be guided by the needs of voters. Hall County voters should not be forced to choose between their health and their fundamental right to vote and at this critical time voters deserve more opportunities to cast a ballot, not less.”

“The early voting closures in Hall County present real issues for Black and Latinx voters,” said Andrea Young, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “Substantial travel times, crowded polling locations, and long lines not only create undue burdens on these voters, but also fosters an environment ripe for the spread of COVID-19. Hall County must act quickly to restore the closed locations and ensure voters can cast a ballot safely and with ease.”

Read the letter to Hall County election officials here. *Using the terms “Latino” and “Latinx” interchangeably is done in an effort to reflect diversity and inclusion values.

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Runoff Election… What’s That? (Elección de Segunda Vuelta… ¿Qué es eso?)

(Image Credit: Peter, USA Today)

Runoff Election… What’s That?

Natalia B. Dutra

What is a Runoff?

Most of us have already voted this year, once if not twice, yet I’ve been getting more texts and calls about voting. What’s that about? Surprise, there is another election very soon! This election is known as a runoff election. These types of elections happen when there is no clear winner in a race from a previous election. In this case, there were a few races from the general election, in November, that did not have a clear winner. The runoff is sort of like a tie-breaker; citizens get another chance to vote for the elected official they would like to see represent their community. 

What am I Voting for?

Depending on the county you live in, there may be a number of positions to vote for. One of the statewide elections is for Public Service Commissioner; the Public Service Commissioner is in charge of the regulation of essential utility services such as energy and water. 

Two of the biggest, statewide races in this election though, are for the Senate. The Senate is one of the two Congressional houses; there are two senators per state, and they serve terms of six years. During this election cycle, both of Georgia’s Senate seats were up for grabs. Neither of the races had candidates with over 50% of the votes, so a runoff was necessary. 

Important Dates

Luckily, if you did not register in time to vote in November, you still have time to register so that you can participate in the Runoff Election. Election Day for the Runoff Election is Tuesday, January 5th, but there are many additional opportunities to vote before then. Voting early or by mail lets you skip long lines on Election Day. 

Early voting, which allows you to vote at a more convenient time, begins on December 14th. Voting early also allows you to vote anywhere in your county, rather than voting at your designated polling location. 

Another super convenient way to vote is through absentee ballots, or voting by mail. After you apply for your absentee ballot, you receive your ballot in the mail and can vote from the comfort of your home. Applying is also super easy and can be done completely online. If you plan on voting by mail, apply to receive your ballot as soon as possible, so that there is enough time for your ballot to get to you. After you complete your ballot you can either send it back in the mail, or you can turn it in at a dropbox. If your ballot does not get to you in time, you can still vote in person; you just have to sign a paper that will void your absentee ballot when you arrive at your polling location. 

Why Should I Care?

A big question for many people is why this election matters. Even if you voted in the General Election, it is still important to vote. This election is especially important because it will decide who controls the Senate. The Senate has many important duties; they have the power to ratify treaties, confirm presidential appointments, and more. 

Besides the importance of this specific election, voting, in general, is also very important. Your vote allows you to decide which elected officials will be in charge; it is critical to vote for people that will fight for your rights and for the wellbeing of your community. The presidential election is not the only thing you should care about; local elections and other federal elections are crucial. The decisions these elected officials make are more likely to affect us on an immediate level. 

Don’t forget to participate in the Runoff Election because your voice deserves to be heard. Your opinion is important and you have a say in what happens in your community. Your vote is your power!

Important Links

  • My Voter Page – This website lets you check your registration status, the status of your absentee ballot, track your absentee ballot, where to vote, who will be on your ballot, and more. 
  • Absentee Ballot Request – This link allows you to request your absentee ballot online. 

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Elección de Segunda Vuelta… ¿Qué es eso?

Natalia B. Dutra

¿Qué es una Elección de Segunda Vuelta?

La mayoría de nosotros ya hemos votado este año, una vez si no dos veces, sin embargo, he estado recibiendo más mensajes y llamadas sobre la votación. ¿De qué se trata? ¡Sorpresa, hay otra elección muy pronto! Esta elección es conocida como una Elección de Segunda Vuelta. Este tipo de elección ocurre cuando no hay un ganador claro en una carrera de una elección anterior. En este caso, hubo algunas carreras de las elecciones generales, en noviembre, que no tenían un ganador claro. La segunda vuelta es como un desempate; los ciudadanos tienen otra oportunidad de votar por el funcionario electo que les gustaría ver representando a su comunidad.

¿Por qué Estoy Votando?

Dependiendo del condado en que vives, puede haber un número de posiciones para votar. Una de las elecciones estatales es para Comisionado de la Administración Pública; el Comisionado de la Administración Pública se encarga de la regulación de los servicios públicos esenciales, como la energía y el agua.

Las carreras más importantes en esta elección, sin embargo, son para el Senado. El Senado es una de las dos cámaras del Congreso; hay dos senadores por estado, y sirven términos de seis años. Durante este ciclo electoral, los dos puestos del Senado de Georgia están en juego. Ninguna de las dos carreras tuvo candidatos con más del 50% de los votos, por lo que fue necesaria una segunda vuelta.

Fechas Importantes

Afortunadamente, si no se registró a tiempo para votar en noviembre, todavía tiene tiempo para registrarse para poder participar en la Elección de Segunda Vuelta. El día de las elecciones para la segunda vuelta es el martes, día 5 de enero, pero hay muchas oportunidades adicionales para votar antes de entonces. Votar temprano o por correo te permite evitar largas filas el día de las elecciones.

La votación temprana, que le permite votar en un momento más conveniente, comienza el 14 de diciembre. Votar temprano también le permite votar en cualquier lugar de su condado, en vez de votar en su lugar de votación designado.

Otra manera súper conveniente de votar es a través de boletas por correo. Después de solicitar su boleta por correo, usted recibirá su boleta por correo y podrá votar desde la comodidad de su hogar. La aplicación también es súper fácil y se puede hacer completamente en línea. Si usted planea votar por correo, solicite recibir su boleta lo antes posible, de modo que haya suficiente tiempo para que su boleta llegue a usted. Después de completar tu boleta, puedes enviarla de vuelta en el correo o entregarla en un dropbox. Si su boleta no llega a tiempo, usted todavía puede votar en persona; usted sólo tiene que firmar un papel que anulará su boleta por correo cuando llegue a su lugar de votación. 

¿Por qué Debería Importarme?

Una gran pregunta para muchas personas es por qué esta elección importa. Incluso si usted votó en las elecciones generales, todavía es importante votar. Esta elección es especialmente importante porque decidirá cuál partido controla el Senado. El Senado tiene muchas funciones importantes; tienen el poder de ratificar tratados, confirmar nombramientos presidenciales y más.

Además de la importancia de esta elección específica, el voto, en general, también es muy importante. Su voto le permite decidir qué funcionarios electos estarán a cargo; es crítico votar por personas que lucharán por sus derechos y por el bienestar de su comunidad. Las elecciones presidenciales no son lo único que debería importarte; las elecciones locales y otras elecciones federales son cruciales. Las decisiones que estos funcionarios electos toman son más probables afectarnos en un nivel inmediato.

No te olvides de participar en la Elección de Segunda Vuelta porque tu voz merece ser escuchada. Tu opinión es importante y tienes voz en lo que sucede en tu comunidad. ¡Tu voto es tu poder!

Enlaces Importantes

  • My Voter Page – Este sitio web le permite verificar el estado de su registro, el estado de su boleta por correo, para rastrear su boleta por correo, su lugar de votación, quién estará en su boleta, y más. 
  • Absentee Ballot Request – Este enlace le permite solicitar su boleta en línea. 

Work Cited

Peter, Josh. “Georgia Runoff Elections Will Determine Control of US Senate: How We Got Here.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 7 Nov. 2020, www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/11/06/2020-georgia-runoff-election-senate-loeffler-ossoff/6192322002/.

 

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org.  

 

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PRESS RELEASE: More than 130,000 Newly Naturalized Citizens in Georgia Can Sway the Outcome of 2021 Senate Runoff Election, GALEO, AAAJ-Atlanta and NPNA Report Finds  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday December 17th, 2020

Contact: Cristian Solano Cordova 

E: cristian@partnershipfornewamericans.org

Tel: (720) 434-4632

More than 130,000 Newly Naturalized Citizens in Georgia Can Sway the Outcome of 2021 Senate Runoff Election, GALEO, AAAJ-Atlanta and NPNA Report Finds  

A report release today sheds light on the potential impact of newly naturalized citizens on national, state, and local elections

Facebook LIVE Recording Available Here

ATLANTA, GA – More than 130,000 people have naturalized in Georgia since 2014, according to a new report by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), in collaboration with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and The Latino Community Fund of Georgia (LCF). These potential new voters exceed the margin of victory for the 2020 presidential election (11,779 votes).

“I wouldn’t have been able to become a voting naturalized citizen if it weren’t for community organizations like GALEO doing this work long before I was at my organization. My story is just one story out of many, but it’s a journey of recognition that democracy is an active sport that we play every day. It is up to us to create that future for our students, entrepreneurs, workers and communities.” said Gigi Pedraza, executive director of the Latino Community Fund of Georgia.

Pedraza is part of an estimated 5 million individuals across the country that have naturalized since 2014. Of this group, around three million naturalized after Donald Trump’s election, making them one of the most significant electoral groups in recent U.S. history. The national New American Voters report analyzed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data on naturalizations from fiscal years 2014 to 2018, applications approved in fiscal year 2019, and estimates for 2020, based on spikes of naturalization before the 2016 presidential election. Despite the mismanagement of USCIS and its backlog of over 700,000 citizenship applications serving as a voter suppression tool, approximately 5 million newly naturalized citizens can sway the outcome of this years’ presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial elections.

The Georgia report includes the following top lines on Georgia’s new American population:

  • In Georgia, the largest numbers of naturalized citizens from 2014 to 2018 were originally from Mexico, India, Vietnam, Jamaica and South Korea. 
  • Georgia county breakdown: Gwinnett County is home to more than 100,000 naturalized citizens, while Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb have approximately 50,000 each. There are also over a dozen counties throughout Georgia that have several thousands of naturalized citizens.
  • Age breakdown: Nearly two-thirds of newly naturalized citizens in Georgia from 2014-2018 were below the age of 45 when they naturalized.

This effort is part of GALEO’S Georgia civic engagement campaign and NPNA’s New American Voters 2020 campaign. The latter is a national campaign which promotes voting among newly naturalized Americans, and includes the participation of NPNA partner organizations such as AAAJ-Atlanta & GALEO to lift  up the importance of voting for naturalized citizens.

“This a multi-racial, multi-generational voting bloc represents a powerful political force that once already made their voice heard in November. At a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are high in our country, these New Americans Voters have raised their voice and sway the outcome of elections for the White House and the state legislature. The first step to exercising that power in the Senate run-off is to register and vote. NPNA is proud to join with GALEO & AAAJ-Atlanta today as they work across Georgia to encourage New Americans to exercise the most influential democratic action a citizen can take, which is voting,” said Nicole Melaku, NPNA executive director.

New Americans are making a significant difference and have been doing so for quite some time. There’s well over 250K latinos registered to vote in Georgia, many of which are naturalized citizens. Latino voter participation rate in Georgia has surpassed the national average, not just this election cycle, but several election cycles prior. We’re working with partners in the Black, Asian-American, & refugee communities to engage voters and turn out folks to the polls” added Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. 

Access the full the national New American Voters report from NPNA here.

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GALEO’s mission is to increase civic engagement and leadership of the Latino/Hispanic community across Georgia. We strive for a better Georgia where the Latino community is engaged civically and its contributions and concerns are recognized.

Latino Community Fund of Georgia is a 501(c)(3) Latinx membership organization serving as a philanthropic intermediary and providing specific direct services and programs.  We fund power-building strategies, program development, and capacity building in Georgia.

The National Partnership for New Americans is a national multiethnic, multiracial organization that represents 39 of the largest regional immigrant and refugee rights organizations in 35 states. Its members provide large-scale services for the communities, to leverage their collective power and expertise for a national strategy. More information about the New American Voters 2020 campaign is available at http://newamericanvoters2020.org/

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The Point of View of a Poultry Plant Worker’s Daughter During COVID-19

*This blog is written by an anonymous member of GALEO.

Hall County is known as the poultry capital of the state. Unfortunately, to this day the poultry industry in Hall County cares more about profits than its employees.

During the start of the pandemic, businesses followed CDC regulations during the state lockdown. Poultry plants, on the other hand, took it upon themselves to increase production while putting their employees at a serious risk.

On April 28, 2020, Hall County emerged as north Georgia’s COVID-19 hot spot. During that time, Hall confirmed 1,132 COVID-19 cases. Health officials stated that at least some of those patients came from the area’s chicken processing plants.

11Alive interviewed Vanesa Sarazua with the Gainesville-based Hispanic Alliance of Georgia, representing a community that drives much of the labor in chicken plants. Ms. Sarazua said in her interview “We didn’t have masks. Workers didn’t have masks. We didn’t have the luxury of staying home during this COVID crisis but had to hit the road running to go to work and continue to work throughout the crisis,” she said.

My mother is one of those workers. When the pandemic started, she was scared to go to work but knew she could not take time off because bills needed to get paid. I went and stocked up on cleaning supplies. I made sure she had masks because her job did not provide PPE and still doesn’t. To this day, the plant where she works expects every employee to buy their own PPE as well as to report to work every day.

The disbelief and anger I felt and still do feel seeing my mother risk her health because the company’s owner values profits more than the health of his employees, including that of my mother’s, is astronomical. My mother could realistically end up in the hospital due to the health measures that are not being taken. My family can end up in the hospital if she unknowingly brings back home the virus.

What will it take for these poultry plants to take this pandemic seriously? To take the health of its workers seriously?  They can easily provide masks, hand sanitizers, soaps, etc. but choose every day not too. My local convenience store has FREE masks for customers. I see no argument as to why poultry plant workers must provide their own PPE! It is a shame how these companies handled this. It’s a blessing in disguise because now we see that these companies do not care about their employees one bit.

Works Cited

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/kemp-visits-poultry-plant/85-7d845d0b-121d-45f5-9839-b39b7a6110b0

Author: Doug Richards   Published: 5:58 PM EDT May 15, 2020

Article_15c1baae-8f3f-11ea-8d0c-07c1322a86b2.html

Hall County emerges as Georgia’s latest coronavirus hot spot

Barmel Lyons, Rebekka Schramm

Picture details: https://www.thepoultrysite.com/news/2020/06/us-experts-warn-that-poultry-workers-are-at-risk-of-covid-19-infections-despite-economic-reopening

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org.  

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BLOG: Georgia Runoff History and How GOTV Efforts Could Change It

Georgia Runoff History and How GOTV Efforts Could Change It

By: Laura Jimenez, Fall 2020 Intern

In the aftermath of a very heated general election cycle full of fraud allegations, recounts, and increased polarization, the United States is left with only the state of Georgia deciding its fate in two nail biting senate races. Incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are competing against Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock respectively for their seats in the United States Senate. Because the Senate’s current party distribution is 50 republicans and 48 democrats, these two seats are crucial in determining which party controls this legislative body. The outcome of these two elections will also predict how feasible it will be for President-Elect Joseph R. Biden to accomplish significant policy change during his time in office. The future of the nation rests on these two Senate seats, so all eyes are on Georgia until January 5th, the day of the runoff election. Because of the importance of these two races, it is important, as Georgians and people following these elections in other states, to know about Georgia Runoff History and how GOTV efforts may affect it.

In most elections in the United States, plurality voting is implemented, meaning that the candidate with the highest amount of votes, with disregard to whether this candidate has received the majority vote, is the winner of the election. In contrast, Georgia uses runoff voting to ensure that the vote of the majority is the overall winner of the race. In other words, if no candidate wins 50% plus one of the votes in an election, then a runoff is required by Georgia Law. Sure, runoff elections ensure that the majority of the constituents that voted are satisfied with their choice. The issue with this method, however, arises when it comes into practice in order to systematically deprive the minority of their choices. That begs the question, when and why did runoff elections become law in Georgia?

The Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent movement to enfranchise Black and Brown Americans curtailed the development of a historically strong coalition against this group of people. The result of this was several attempts by many states to systematically dilute the voices of Black and Brown Americans upon being granted the right to vote. In 1917, the adoption of the ‘county unit system” in Georgia functioned much like the Electoral College system in the United States. Since this system benefited small counties disproportionately, and most Black Americans live in urban counties, their voting power was greatly diminished and was less likely to favor their policy interests (Holzer, 2020). This system was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States because it was considered unconstitutional under the “one person, one vote” standard.

When left without a method to suppress the Black vote, Denmark Groover, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, championed the motion to adopt runoff voting into Georgia law. In having a runoff election, Groover believed, the white vote would not have to worry about being split among many candidates and being overtaken by Black Georgians rallying around a single Black candidate. In his very own words, without enacting runoff elections into law, “the Negroes and the pressure groups and special interests are going to manipulate this State and take charge.” Runoff elections ensured that, even if the white vote was split among several candidates in the first election round, white people could rally around the same person during the runoffs and win because they are the majority. Runoff elections were made into Georgia law for all elections in 1966, and this system full of racial bias has reigned in the state since then (Holzer, 2020).

Because the Georgia law that requires runoffs has historically benefited the interests of white voters, the initial prediction for this 2021 runoff lands in favor of Senators Purdue and Loeffler, who have the support of approximately 69% of white voters (CNN, 2020). Because this election is so consequential for the future of American politics, past trends may not be indicative of Georgian voter behavior this year. Democrats typically do not turn out for runoff elections because the prospects of winning this election are low (Hulse, 2020). A major challenge for the Democratic Party of Georgia will be to energize their voter base enough to encourage them to vote in substantial numbers. Because Georgia flipped Democratic for the Presidential election this year, there is already a considerable amount of momentum going into this runoff.

In addition to this, there has been a rapid demographic shift that may indicate that this race is much closer than expected. Senatorial exit polls indicate that approximately 78% of people of color voted for Jon Ossoff, and this trend holds true for Reverend Raphael Warnock as well (CNN, 2020). Since voters of color comprise approximately 38% of Georgian constituents, there is a possibility for these senate runoffs to change history by ensuring that this demographic shows up to vote. The odds of the runoff law in Georgia benefiting the majority and silencing the minority still exist, but they are far lower than they were even ten years ago. Because of the efforts of many grassroots and non-profit organizations that are encouraging people to vote during this election, the path toward elections that take every voice into account is in sight.

As we endure this high-stakes runoff season, it is my hope that we all can be advocates for free and fair elections despite this complicated history we do not always want to discuss. Regardless of anyone’s political beliefs, it is always an honor to contribute to amplifying voices and encouraging our communities to show up for what is most important for them. Georgia is currently under the country’s political spotlight, and this is as good an opportunity as any to champion equality and integrity.

Works Cited

“Georgia 2020 U.S. Senate Exit Polls.” CNN, Cable News Network, www.cnn.com/election/2020/exit-polls/senate/georgia.

Holzer, Joshua. “A Brief History of Georgia’s Runoff Voting – and Its Racist Roots.” The Conversation, 24 Nov. 2020, theconversation.com/a-brief-history-of-georgias-runoff-voting-and-its-racist-roots-15035 6.

Hulse, Carl. Democrats Work to Defy History in Georgia Runoffs That Have Favored G.O.P. 14 Nov.2020,www.nytimes.com/2020/11/14/us/politics/georgia-runoffs-senate-control.html.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org.  

Questions or concerns about voting? Call us at 1-888-54GALEO (1-888-544-2536) or visit georgialatinovote.com.

¿Preguntas o inquietudes sobre la votación? Llámenos al 1-888-54GALEO (1-888-544-2536) o visite GeorgiaVota.com.

To Pledge to Vote for these upcoming elections, please visit bit.ly/P2VGALEO2020.

Para comprometerse a votar por estas próximas elecciones, por favor visite bit.ly/P2VGALEO2020.

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