Caribbean pols urge community to exercise voting franchise

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn.
Corazon Aguirre

With the beginning of early voting in New York on Saturday, Caribbean legislators have been urging the community to exercise their franchise and cast ballots in the general elections on Nov. 2.

“Whether you cast your vote early, by mail, or on Election Day, it is critical that you get out and vote,” New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, told Caribbean Life on Monday.

“Local elections are the foundation of our democracy,” added the daughter of Haitian immigrants. “Who governs our city and state will determine the policies that affect us day-to-day, for years to come.

“For members of the Caribbean-American community, voting can help sway policies that determine how our country handles immigration, what resources are made available, and to whom,” continued Bichotte-Hermelyn, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.

“Last year, on the state level, that meant passing an Excluded Workers Fund, which allowed many Caribbean-American families to recover more equitably from the coronavirus pandemic,” she said. “Make sure you find time to make your voice heard, and vote with your interests in mind.”

Positions on the ballot include: NYC Mayor, NYC Comptroller, Borough President, Public Advocate, District Attorney and City Council.

“Find your poll site,” Bichotte Hermelyn urged. “You can also vote on five ballot proposals, which would amend the state Constitution, if passed.

She said the ballot proposals are: Question 1: The Redistricting Process. This proposal would reform the redistricting process that determines representation across the state.

Question 2: Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthful Environment. This proposal would provide the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment to all New Yorkers.

Question 3: Same-Day Voter Registration. This proposal would expand voting rights and remove the requirement that a person register to vote at least 10 days before an election.

Question 4: No-Excuse Absentee Voting. This proposal would allow the State Legislature to pass new laws that give more New Yorkers the option to vote by mail without providing an excuse.

Question 5: Civil Court’s Claim Limit. This proposal increases the jurisdictional limit of the NYC Civil Court from $25,000 to $50,000, reducing the burden on the NYS Supreme Court.

“Check your registration status,” Bichotte-Hermelyn said. “Don’t forget to check your voter registration status and learn about what’s on your ballot. After that, be sure to tell your friends and family, too.”

Council Member Farah N. Louis, another Haitian American legislator said, “this year’s election will determine the future of our city, as we fight to ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic.

“And it’s crucial that we all get out to vote,” said the representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn. “The way that we vote in this election will decide how our city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, builds more affordable housing, improves education, and combats gun violence and violent crimes to make our streets safer.

“The future of our city depends on all of us, and voting in this election is one way we can all ensure a brighter future,” she told Caribbean Life. “There’s no excuse not to vote with all of the options that are available; and, with early voting happening now, there’s no better time to go to the polls.

“With weekend and evening hours, early voting makes it easier than ever to head to the polls in a way that is most convenient for all of us,” Louis added. “And for those concerned about social distancing, avoiding Election Day crowds is another advantage.

“Early voting gives constituents in our community more options to make their voices heard, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity,” the assemblywoman continued.

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