Black folks have legitimate concerns about whether their votes will count—given the seemingly nonstop last-ditch electoral shenanigans ahead of Election Day. With so many voter registration applications getting rejected and names removed from voter rolls in just the past few weeks alone, some voters could be forgiven for thinking elections are rigged.
But for Arisha Hatch, director of Color of Change PAC, that’s far from a good reason to sit this election – or any election – out.
“I like to think about it as if we’re all on a sports team: There are people whose job it is to score goals and someone whose job it is to protect the goal,” Hatch told NewsOne this week. “And when it comes to elections, your job is to go out and vote, and there are teams of lawyers who are the goalies.”
But what about potential cheating, you ask?
Don’t worry about that, either, Hatch said: “There are teams of lawyers who are the goalies.”
Sports metaphors aside, Hatch said that she and members of her racial justice organization are here to help energize the apathetic and inspire the discouraged.
“It’s valid to have those concerns, given the history of attempts to suppress Black voters,” she said.
That’s why she and Color of Change have massive armies of political organizers and volunteers to scour the streets and knock on doors to help convince those wary of voting to go to the polls and cast ballots. They put troops on the ground to specifically seek out those who seldom or never vote.
Once voters get to the polls, either during early voting or on Tuesday, Hatch said a contingency plan was in place.
If problems arise, there were lawyers and other resources in place throughout the country making sure that all eligible voters can exercise their right to cast a ballot, she said, pointing to the Election Protection hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, that’s managed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law as an example.
Despite all the apparent suppression efforts toward Black voters, in particular, have already been seen in Georgia, there was still reason to believe things could go smoothly. Chief among them is the lawsuit filed against Georgia election officials for the unusually high rejection rate of absentee mail ballots cast by disproportionately minority voters. The election was taking on a special significance for Black voters in the Peach State because Stacey Abrams could make history there and become the first African-American woman governor in U.S. history.
Make no mistake: The GOP recognizes the power of the Black vote. African-Americans were instrumental in Andrew Gillum’s come from behind primary election victory in August for Florida governor. While the frontrunner Gwen Graham won the vast majority of Florida’s counties, Gillum reportedly did best in huge counties like Broward where large numbers of Black Democrats helped to push him over the top.
That type of handiwork is tough to ignore and has likely prompted all of the overt and subliminal voter suppression and intimidation tactics seen in recent weeks. That’s why Hatch said that she and Color of Change, which has years of experience swaying apathetic voters, talk about voting in terms of it being something citizens can do to help turn their visions for their community into realities.
“I ask, ‘What’s important to you?'” she said of her talks with prospective voters. “‘What are the things you want to see in the world for yourself and your family?’”
She continued, putting it in perspective.
“Voting is not a magic wand,” she said, “but it’s one thing you can do.”