Early voting began Monday in Georgia ahead of the January runoff elections. Longstanding organizing efforts by and of communities of color have built political power over time and could prove decisive in the twin senatorial races that culminate in January. The multiracial electorate in Georgia highlights the role of AAPI, Latino, Black and Native American voters who were crucial in the presidential election and have shown to be a force in future elections. Many voter mobilization efforts have centered on the rejection of anti-immigrant policies emanating from the Trump administration and Republican members of Congress. Results from the American Election Eve Poll show that voters of color in Georgia are energized by the opportunity to create a humane and just immigration system that benefits all.
Below we lift up instances where observers highlight the growing importance of AAPI, Latino, Black and Native American coalitions and the need for commitment to sustain and motivate this crucial voting bloc.
- Immigrant champions like former U.S. Rep Gutiérrez partnered with UNITE HERE to turn out Georgia’s only team of African immigrant canvassers in their door-to-door canvassing operation. These voters are part of a growing population of Georgia residents who were born in Africa, which in an 18 year period, grew 184%, and could tip the balance of these Georgia elections. In a statement from UNITE HERE, Rep. Guitiérrez and UNITE HERE member and canvasser Hanna Alamu, focussed on the significance of the African immigrant voting bloc:
‘There are 114,000 people born in Africa who live in Georgia, and 51,000 of them have already gone through the extensive process of becoming U.S. citizens. This means they paid a significant fee, learned English, passed an oral and written test on our U.S. history and culture, and then raise their right hand and swear that they will carry arms to defend the USA and our Constitution,’ said former Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, a national champion on immigration reform. ‘Today, these UNITE HERE members are showing their faith in that democracy through both their active work in this election and in their union for dignity at work. This African Canvass Team and the Africans living in Georgia are a beautiful addition to our nation, and what our nation’s symbol of the Statue of Liberty is about.’
‘All I want is a chance to achieve the American Dream, but I am really worried about my immigration status. Since Trump has been President, it has been hard. Our rights have been threatened,’ said Hanna Alamu, a canvasser and member of UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union in Las Vegas. ‘Trump and the Republicans try to scare people like me and tell us that we don’t belong, but by getting out the vote, we’re making it clear that immigrants do belong, and that we’re going to fully participate in the democratic process.’
- In a Washington Post piece, “Rising Latino voters could be force in Georgia Senate races,”
Democrats want to make sure Latinos turn out again, emphasizing immigration and COVID-19 relief in their campaigns… Increasing Latino interest and participation has been fed in part by an upswell of political organizing in Latino communities that has reached voters like Anayely Moreno, a Gainesville resident and the daughter of Mexican immigrants…Moreno said the struggles of immigrants in her small city northeast of Atlanta, in a state where sentiment against illegal immigration has often been harsh, is the prime motivator driving her to the ballot box.‘Georgia is no longer only Black and white. Georgia is multilingual and multiethnic,’ said Gigi Pedraza, executive director of Georgia’s Latino Community Fund, which has helped mobilize Latino voters.
- Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) pens an article in the Hill, “Remember Asian American voters:”
None of this would have been possible without the dedicated and hardworking AAPI volunteers and advocates. Many had been under-appreciated for too long. Their sweat equity turned out these voters across the country. We owe them our gratitude. Some of these volunteers organized over 14 AAPI affinity groups to support President-elect Biden to engage voters with cultural competency…Even now, as the battle for Senate majority continues to wage in Georgia, we cannot overlook that in Georgia alone, AAPI early voters exceeded their total 2016 turnout by 57 percent. On Jan. 5, control of the Senate will depend on continued AAPI voter engagement…it’s on Democrats to continue to steadfastly show up for AAPIs across the country.
- Cliff Albright, Co-founder and Executive Director of Black Voters Matter Fund and Tory Gavito, President of Way to Win in a Politico article, “The Way to Keep Georgia Blue:”
We think there has been too much discussion of the shifts and opinions of white voters, specifically that Joe Biden’s win in Georgia is a story of white seniors and suburbanites breaking for the former vice president…Voters of color turning out in record numbers didn’t happen overnight. It was the result of years of on-the-ground organizing, led by local leaders, who know their communities best and have built trust over time within their respective communities…There is no room for error in Georgia on this point…they will need to follow the lead of local organizers who have created the blueprint for winning a multiracial coalition of votes. They must invest in culturally competent campaigning, led by organizations that have been doing the work in local communities for generations. To do this, campaigns must harness the power of the multiracial coalition of white college-educated, Black, Latino and Asian American voters.