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Nov 5, 2014

Black Women’s Roundtable Comment on Black Voter Turnout in the Midterm Elections

Washington, DC – Following are comments from members of the Black Women’s Roundtable who played a significant role in voter education, protection and mobilization in the 2014 Midterm Election cycle. Their comments are based on anecdotal information compiled while manning the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s (NCBCP) Ronald Walters Election Day Command Center which monitored and analyzed voter mobilization and assistance operations in several states.

Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener, Black Women’s Roundtable, “Yesterday we had powerful ground operations led by Black women and youth in several states. All of them say turnout was higher than expected, and, in many states more turned out than in 2010. There were several state ballot initiatives that passed for minimum wage and paid sick days that will have a positive economic benefit for women and working families. Our early analysis reveals that part of the reason the Democrats lost control of the U. S. Senate and key gubernatorial races is because they ran away from the leader of their party, President Obama, and they did not invest in their base until the last minute including mobilizing Black, Latino, women and youth voters. Moving forward, we believe it is critical for the Black community to engage all those who were elected to address issues important to our communities. The Black Women’s Roundtable will continue to expand our national, state-based and local organizing to hold all elected official accountable to our interests no matter the party.”

Elsie Scott, Ph.D., director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University,“I am pleased that 40-plus percent of the black candidates who ran statewide or in the congressional races were women and half of them won, including five new members of Congress. I applaud the women who took that bold step to run for office to make a difference in their communities and to make the voice of the African American woman heard. The election shows that we have a lot of work to do to get more black women and persons who support issues that significantly affect our communities elected to office. We must now prepare to let elected officials know that whether or not we voted for them, our tax dollars are being spent by them and we expect them to be accountable to all of their constituents, including racial minorities, the poor and women.”

Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Ph.D., co-chair, National African American Clergy Network, “The African American faith community has been a vital part of every major advancement of Black people in our nation. The Black faith community worked in coalition with community groups and produced a larger than expected Black voter turnout in the 2014 mid-term election. This coalition underscores the importance and power of the Black faith community to give voice to the voiceless across the nation on a range of vital policy issues. With a dramatic shift in power in this election, continued coalition building by the Black Faith community with key community groups will be critical in the coming years.”

Clayola Brown, president, A. Philip Randolph Institute, “Black women, in particular, who are the fastest growing segment of America’s voting bloc, showed up in phenomenal numbers. But, blindsided by indifference, ignorance, or both, the two leading political parties in this country refuse to listen, acknowledge and understand the importance of speaking to and acting in a meaningful way on the issues that influence these women who not only showed up to vote, but showed up on the election ballot. On the other hand, the challenges and the obstacles of voter suppression still impede the democratic process that this country was built on. But, make no mistake, these are small hurdles to overcome—the biggest hurdle for the Democrats and the Republicans will be for them to truly understand that if they want our vote, they must really take heed and act on our issues. Or, prepare to stumble into 2016.”

Avis Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D., president and CEO, Incite Unlimited, LLC,“One significant, but underreported impact on last night's election results were the very real implications of laws and last minute actions that significantly impeded the voting rights of citizens across the nation. Black and brown communities especially were seemingly targeted with misinformation, last minute polling place changes, and long wait times. Voter ID laws too, provided an additional hurdle for potential voters, especially impacting the young, the economically disadvantaged, women, and communities of color. As a nation that prides itself in its democratic ideals, we must do better. We must never embrace echoes of America's discriminatory voting past and instead create a future that embraces the democratic ideal, not as a theoretical exercise, or as a rhetorical crutch, but instead as a lived, practiced, reality.”

Holli L. Holliday, Esq., CEO and Chief Strategist, Holliday Advisors, LLC, “For too long, the African American community has been caught between Republicans would ignore us and legislate against our interest and Democrats who take us for granted and offer us tokenism policy reform. This election has been a personification or our bad options, to stay home and not vote or to vote for the least offensive options. The growing influence of women, particular women of color should not be under valued. This election saw an historic number of African American candidates seek national or statewide offices, which resulted in 5 new black women in Congress. But as we look head to 2016, Rs and Ds should be preparing for a new electorate that is browner, younger and savvy to vote its margins.”

Lisa Fager, Senior Advisor Black Youth Vote, Black America showed up at the polls enduring historical barriers even in 2014, however it was also clear that one party affiliation can no longer be an arrogant given. Many of those that did not court the communities with substance were not given the support they predicted. As we move forward we must continue to fight for our right to vote and quality candidates that stand for improving our communities and daily lives.

René Redwood, CEO Redwood Enterprise, “The Congressional Black Caucus members won their elections and the caucus gained two African American women. The voice of Black America is infiltrating both political parties. We are being courted in effective ways by the Republican Party which can be a message to the Democratic Party that they can no longer take us for granted. And although the 'Georgia Five' - five African American women running for statewide offices did not ultimately take the offices, they made impressive gains and have opened up new routes and seeded pipelines to power for a new generation of public service and officials."

Salandra Benton, convener, Florida Black Women’s Roundtable,“What we know is that the Black community responds when people they know and trust talk to them and them on the issues and why it is important to vote early and let your voice be loud at the ballot box. Black move to action when they get the message from a trusted voice they have a relationship with- that’s why we saw an increase in Black voter turnout in Florida from 2010 midterms. Don't Count Us Out!

Helen Butler, executive director, Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda and convener, Georgia Black Women’s Roundtable, “It’s great to see that turnout exceeded predictions and the 2010 Midterm despite the fact that most of the candidates messages did not resonate with the voters and were not delivered by familiar and trusted voices. The more we focus on developing messages that everyday people can relate to, we will continue to increase Black voter turnout. The candidates should follow that same formula.”

Rev. Judith Moore, Ph.D., executive director, Sisters Saving Ourselves Now and convener, Pittsburgh, PA Black Women’s Roundtable, “We found that education and jobs were the key issues that motivated Black voters and other communities in Pittsburgh to get out and vote. Many voters across party lines felt that Governor Tom Corbett did not do a good job addressing issues affecting working families and voted him out of office because of those concerns on yesterday.

Stephanie Moore, convener, Kalamazoo, MI Black Women’s Roundtable and Mothers of Hope, “We were pleased to see the turnout of women and people of color throughout Kalamazoo county. Through ongoing education and civic engagement we were able to inspire and empower voters. Our focus and priority will be to continue the dialogue to better educate voters while supporting community based emerging leaders to lead efforts that will address barriers to voting and support efforts for equal access to the overall democratic process.”


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