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Voter Registrations Increase Amid Protests

A voter walks past candidate signs on election day 2014.
A voter walks past candidate signs on election day 2014. (Photo: U.S. Department of State)

“It’s happening much sooner in the cycle than you normally see it.”

Organizations dedicated to spurring more voter registrations are reporting an uptick due to the George Floyd protests, CNBC reported. Before the protests, advocacy groups had witnessed a downturn in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to NPR. Former President Barack Obama, celebrities such as a rapper Killer Mike, and Floyd’s family have added their voices to a chorus calling for Americans to vote as a referendum on the Trump administration.

Latino Americans Answer Calls to Register

Voter registrations have risen noticeably with Latino Americans. Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of Vote Latino, a nonprofit Democrat organization, told CNBC her group has already exceed its goal of registering 20,000 voters in June. By Sunday, Vote Latino anticipates having 50,000 Latino youth registered, she said.

A bulk of the group’s spending—$140,000—was in Texas and Arizona, two border states with large Latino populations. The group once campaigned on issues such as President Donald Trump’s wall on the Mexican border, but its website now pitches the protest angle as well.

“There are many ways to get involved to end police brutality and racist policing,” Vote Latino’s website states. “Be sure to vote all the way down the ballot for leaders who will listen to us and who care about the safety and lives of our Black and brown communities.” 

The group is coming another $300,000 to continue to drive up registration numbers in the hope of hitting its Election Day goal of 500,000.

Mi Familia Vota, another a Latino voter registration group, registered 3,000 voters across Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.

“We have seen solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, the group’s CEO. “It’s unacceptable that we see all this racism and violence, and we are going to stand with the African American community because an attack on one is an attack on all of us.”

Local Governments Witness Increased Applications

Rock the Vote, a larger nonprofit created by music executive Jeff Ayeroff, experienced its best week of the election season in terms of registrations, logging 50,000 new voters, according to Carolyn DeWitt, CEO. She credited the organization’s social media campaign and voters’ desire for change as motivating factors. 

“While we don’t necessarily have evidence right now until we dig into the motivations of registering at this moment, I think the urgency raised awareness that people believe change needs to happen,” DeWitt said.

Advocacy group When We All Vote, co-chaired by Michelle Obama, all experienced a positive effect from the protests. Online monetary contributions were up 70% and the group enjoyed an influx of 1,500 volunteers.

Nonprofit voter advocacy groups aren’t the only ones that handled increased numbers this week—local governments have also witnessed a larger interest in registering. In Craighead County, Texas, County Clerk Kade Holliday said registrations. Whereas the county would normally handle 50 to 60 new voters per week, the number increased 200 to 300 percent during the first full week of demonstrations, Arkansas-based KAIT reported.

“It’s happening much sooner in the cycle than you normally see it,” Holliday said. “Normally, we don’t see a big uptick until August, September whenever it’s really in everybody’s mind that ‘Hey, the election is coming up. I really need to make sure I’m registered to vote.’ That’s when we really see a big uptick.”

Big Names Urge Americans to Vote

As protests continue, Americans looking to make change at and institutional level have been urged to do so through voting. In a speech memorializing his brother, Terrance Floyd called on activists to “stop thinking that our voice don’t matter and vote.”  

 Vote for everybody. Educate yourself, educate yourself. Don’t wait for somebody else to tell you who’s who; educate yourself and know who you’re voting for. And that’s how we’re going to hit them, because it’s a lot of us. It’s a lot of us. And we’re still going to do this peacefully,” Terrance said, according to NBC News.

Obama also remarked that when it comes to protesting or voting, the right decision “is not an either-or. This is a both and to bring about real change,” The Associated Press reported.

Rapper Killer Mike delivered an emotional speech from his hometown of Atlanta, an early epicenter of protest violence, INSIDER reported.

“We don’t want to see Targets burning,” Killer Mike said. “We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burned to the ground.”

The solution, he said, is to “plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize” for voting.

To verify your registration status or to start a new voter registration, visit www.vote.gov for instructions for your state or territory. Some governments permit online registration, but others may require in-person applications.

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis is Managing Editor for The Osage County Herald-Chronicle in Kansas and also covers International news for Inside Over, a Milan-based global affairs publication. He graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Outside of writing, he enjoys photography and one day hopes to return to video production. Learn more about him at his website danieldavis.la.

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