Within the last decade, the U.S. has seen increased efforts by politicians and other organizers to suppress a citizen’s right to vote during election time. Resolution outcries roared.
Voter suppression is defined as a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by deterring or discouraging certain groups of people from voting. Cheating, in simpler terms. Examples of this form of political swindling include restricted voting times, inaccessible ballot box locations, restricted registration, imposing strict voter ID laws, and improper purging.
As the nation observed these unfair situations take place, many organizations and politicians have gotten behind efforts to ensure every American can safely exercise their right to vote, obstacle-free.
Organizations like Power The Vote have emerged to help correct the corruption by creating a multilingual voter protection hotline, providing poll-watchers for onsite support, expanding early voting locations, absentee ballot assistance, and more.
“In states like Georgia, the landscape is really difficult for voters. The barriers for voting, for some, are difficult to overcome. It’s systemic, not just a single voter not having a single problem,” said Kimberly Allen, Co-Founder of Power The Vote.
Voter protection efforts, however, seemed to cease once election season concluded. All organizations disappeared after the hype was over, all except a hand full. This is where the founders of Power The Vote found a window of opportunity to best serve their communities around the clock.
“We understood that voter protection is, not only a critical part of the infrastructure during elections, but it should be a critical part of the infrastructure year around,” said Jamil Favors, Co-Founder of Power The Vote.
Although Power The Votestarted its efforts in Georgia, a battle ground state that flipped blue in the 2020 Presidential Election, the team has taken what they’ve learned and is applying it to other states that have experienced voter suppression in their communities.
Organizations like Power The Vote exist to resolve a single problem. Once that problem is solved, there shouldn’t be a need for voter protection efforts like these in the future.
“It’s crazy that we need an elaborate architecture to help voters exercise their fundamental right to vote. I hope, that at some point, we will overcome these voting barriers, shift the voter suppression landscape, and then, we can start to solve other problems as well,” said Allen.
To learn more about Power The Vote, please visit their website and follow them on social media to put boots-on-the-ground and get involved.
As Election Day approaches, Atlantans will soon have the chance to elect a new Mayor since Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms chose not to run for reelection.
The top five candidates up for election include former Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore, council members Andre Dickens, Sharon Gay, and Antonio Brown; all going after the Mayor’s chair and the power to induce change within city walls.
On October 12th, the candidates went head-to-head for a round of debates to be clear on their positions and take political shots at their opponents. Besides the low blows on policy proposals and finger-pointing, the main three issues that overtook the evening’s talking points were concerning increased crime rates, infrastructure, and education.
Candidate Agendas: Plans for Atlanta
This category lays out each Mayoral Candidate’s plan for investing in the future of Atlanta.
Kasim Reed As a politician who served as the 59th Mayor of the City of Atlanta for two whole terms, Kasim Reed is most likely the most memorable of the 2021 electoral candidates. From 2010-2018, Reed has established solid foundations with many groups, organizations, and corporations throughout Atlanta, with hopes to step back into his beloved Mayoral chair.
Crime To combat rising crime in the city, Reed has visions to hire and properly train 750 new APD officers. Proper training includes equipping new and existing officers with implicit bias and de-escalation tactics that are intended to build trust and up-to-date safety measures for community citizens. More on Kasim Reed’s safety plans.
Education During the debates, Mayor Reed made clear points that connect the Atlanta Public School System with the developing film and arts industry by expanding curriculums to funnel young minds into film careers.
“I’m going to be coordinating with APS to find out how we can fill the gap and galvanize the corperate community to make sure that young people have exactly what then need to not miss a moment in their education,” said Reed.
Felicia Moore As a public servant for over thirty years, Felicia Moore took interest in local government in 1997 and has served as City Councilmember for District 9 for twenty years before becoming Council President in January 2018.
Education Investing in the youth of Atlanta is part of Felicia Moore’s five “C” platform. She believes that expanding youth activities by working with local churches and businesses to expand mentorship programs is paramount for positive growth. Similar to Mayor Reed’s position, Moore plans to work with Atlanta Public Schools to expand after school programs that funnel children into positive environments. Read more on Moore’s plan to invest in children.
Crime Moore’s platform on regulating crime in Atlanta was laid out to deliver a plan categorized into five sectors: Community, Courts, Code Enforcement, and Children. Her platform includes launching an annual community survey that evaluates community trust, decriminalizing poverty related crimes, increasing accountability by tracking police misconduct, and offer programs for previously incarcerated citizens to help them re-enter society effectively. Read more on Moore’s crime platform.
Antonio Brown As the young-spirited CEO, Antonio Brown found his way into politics after launching a successful business in men’s fashion by pouring his interest back into the community for marginalized people in the city of Atlanta. His economically driven platform holds key points to driving the city’s economic ecosystem for the better.
Infrastructure Brown’s platform weighs heavy on improving public transit and alternative transportation so that Atlantans can efficiently access work, school, and leisure activities.
“As a City Councilmember, I’ve advocated for community benefits agreements, specifically for our low earning communities that have, unfortunately, been disenfranchised by developing companies. I think our law department, as Mayor, must be equipped with helping to protect these community benefit agreements within the communities, between our developers,” said Brown.
Crime Brown’s platform on public safety revolves around the expansion of training/resources for officers, building a non-emergency response team, and developing conflict resolution services to deal with gang-related activity within the city of Atlanta. Read more on Brown’s platform.
Andre Dickens Andre Dickens is a City of Atlanta Councilmember, businessman, engineer, and nonprofit executive who has a history of vocalizing public safety, transportation, affordable housing, educational opportunities for APS students.
Crime Andre Dickens’ platform to address crimes formulated into an acronym, holding a similar format to Council-mate, Felicia Moore. His S.A.F.E. Plan outlines key elements to a secure, productive Atlanta. He, too, is an advocate for 21st Century training and reform that results in better recruitment, retention, community engagement, and trust that leads to a decrease in crime.
Environment & Clean Energy As an engineer, Dickens believes in the expansion of environmental policy to combat climate change with goals to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035. Moreover, his plans include incentivizing sustainable development, instituting solar in bulk, and supporting a new Tree Protection Ordinance. Read more on Dickens’ platform.
Sharon Gay As an attorney in the public policy practice at Dentons US LLP, Sharon Gay concentrates her practice in local and state government sectors with concentrations in economic development, transportation, district financing, and public-private partnerships
Infrastructure During the debates, Gay has made many mentions of her intentions of building affordable housing and tackling inner-city crime by way of community involvement. She believes that Atlanta’s issues of today start with engaging leadership at the top.
“This is a big challenge. We need to improve our capacity to spend the transportation dollars we have faster, more effectively, more efficiently to partner, once again, with community improvement districts and other private partners to expand our capacity. Not everybody needs the same things. Different neighborhoods need different things, so we’d really work on a more local level to give the neighborhoods the infrastructure they need” said Gay. Read more on Gay’s platform.
Politics can be tricky because of its complexity and wiggle room for dishonesty and corruption. This election, however, is crucially important because it will, undoubtedly, shape the future of Atlanta’s education system, foundation infrastructure, and crime rate.
The opportunity to vote for Atlanta’s future is open today, November 2, 2021 and its citizens will have another chance to determine her future.