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The Nov. 8 general election is quickly approaching. By now, you’ve probably noticed an increase in political ads interrupting your favorite television shows and popping up online. Messages reminding you to vote appear to be just about everywhere. Maybe your friends and family members have begun discussing the issues and the candidates. But what is your plan on Nov. 8?
An African American man lays on the grass under an American flag. Behind him stands a "Support Voting Rights Now!" Poster. Alabama, ca. 1965. (Photo by �� Carl & Ann Purcell/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
You’ve probably seen old black and white photos of civil rights marches and heard about Bloody Sunday. Black people were beaten and massacred to prevent them from voting. Some even had to take literacy tests or pay poll taxes to vote. Is their sacrifice enough to motivate Blacks today to get out the vote? Is that enough to overcome apathy and mistrust at governmental systems and politicians? If not, what is?
Today, voter suppression can include tactics like redistricting, voter ID laws, limiting early voting, long waits, polling place reductions and more, according to the non-partisan Voting Rights Alliance and other voting rights groups.
Black Iowa News has heard from Black Iowa voters who said they don’t see how voting connects to their everyday lives and struggles, and they don't connect with party politics. Petty political squabbles and controversy, mixed in with nationwide voter suppression efforts, don't inspire confidence or participation. Some also face barriers to voting due to felony convictions in their backgrounds.
March 1965: American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery; among those pictured are, front row, politician and civil rights activist John Lewis (1940 – 2020), Reverend Ralph Abernathy (1926 – 1990), Ruth Harris Bunche (1906 – 1988), Nobel Prize-winning political scientist and diplomat Ralph Bunche (1904 – 1971), activist Hosea Williams (1926 – 2000 right carrying child). (Photo by William Lovelace/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Will the incessant coronavirus pandemic and shaky economy affect Black voter turnout next month? What other factors might affect the turnout? Black Iowa News is listening.
What steps will you take now, if any, to ensure your ballot is counted?
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Black Iowa News wants to help increase awareness and access to credible information. Black Iowa News has created a short questionnaire about voting to help inform its election coverage. Completing it will take just a few minutes. It’s easy and anonymous. Your personal information and email will not be collected. The questions are listed below, along with a link to the actual questionnaire. Please take a few moments to complete it by clicking on the link.
3. Have you voted in an election during the past five years? (Yes/No)
4. Are you planning to vote during the Nov. 8 general election? (Yes/No)
5. Do you have all the information you need to vote? (Yes/No)
6. If you don’t have all the information you need to vote, what do you need to know? (Check all that apply).
- Voter registration status
- Polling location
- Information about the candidates
- Sample/practice ballot
- Time and date of the election
- Whether I can vote as a formerly incarcerated individual
- N/A (not applicable)
7. If you’re not planning to vote in the Nov. 8 election, list some of your main reasons for not voting. (Provide a short answer).
8. Bonus question: What issues do you want elected politicians to work on first? (List the issues you care about here).
See. That’s it. It’s easy. Take the questionnaire and share your thoughts with Black Iowa News.
Police officers attack civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama who were attempting to begin a 50 50-mile march to Montgomery to protest race discrimination in voter registration. Source: Getty Images.
The Black Iowa News Voting Guide
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Black Iowa News has received a grant it will use to create a voting guide that will be mailed to the homes of thousands of voters in Des Moines and delivered to Black-owned businesses in central Iowa mid-October. This project is designed to provide credible voting information, demystify voting processes, explain political jargon and remind Black Iowans about the importance of voting. What do you think needs to be included in the guide? The easy-to-use guide will also feature the following information about each Black Iowa candidate, including:
- City of birth
- Community work
- Previous elected positions
- Top 3 issues
Black Iowa News wants to help voters surmount the enormous problem of disinformation and misinformation campaigns aimed at the Black community. The voting questionnaire and voting guide are a few of the ways Black Iowa News is actively listening to the voices of Black Iowans and providing credible voter education. If you have questions or comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this story with a friend. Thank you for reading.