As November 6th becomes the focal point of this election season. As speculation continues over whether the House and or Senate will change leadership, my attention turns toward Georgia. Not because of the obvious reasons, but because of what this “opportunity” the represents for Voters of Color (VOC), the Youth Vote (YV), and institutions of faith. Although census data shows that Atlanta only grew 0.8% to 420,003, neighboring Athens-Clark County grew by 15% to 116,714. This significant growth may help to give Georgia a new congressional seat plus an extra Electoral College vote in 2020.
What kind of leader will we choose? Will it be someone with a strong sense of duty and responsibility to every person in this country? Will they remain focused and committed to serving the needs of Americans even during “hard times?” After the long list of surprise victories this year, I feel like we may be turning a corner.
So far it seems that this election is about priorities. Voters want to know if “your priorities reflect the reality of our educational system, civil rights, and economic resurgence?” They seem to want to know more about women’s healthcare, higher education, and middle class safety nets and “must do” fiscal treatments. Voters believe what most experts have acknowledged for years — “at the end of the day investing in the economy is good for the economy.”
Moreover, Voters of Color (VOC) in places like Georgia are becoming energized. In fact, the political landscape resembles that of November 3, 1998 where the hyper-partisan nature motivated communities of color to demonstrate their concerns through the power of the vote. In 1998 Voters of Color were 30% of the vote share. Progressive candidates won the governorship, retained control of both houses of the legislature, and candidates of color made significant gains.
As history has shown, Voters of Color can make a difference in the outcome of elections. For example, VOC in Georgia make up close to 35% of the citizen voting age population and most of those registered voted in 2008. In fact, POC made up 34% of the vote share in the 2008 general election. This number increased to 35% in 2010, a Tea Party wave year. The potential impact would be significant in 2018 if every eligible Voter of Color voted. Especially in cities like Atlanta and Athens-Clark County where there are over 230,000 “Key” Voters of Color combined.
This takes me back to something I learned years ago. It’s important for everyone— Whites, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, and Native Americans—to work within an all-inclusive cooperative environment. 2018 is a critical moment for our nation as we remain committed to ensuring that our democracy leaves no one behind. Organizations and institutions within our communities must embrace a diverse and energetic approach to political enfranchisement.