How The Future of Georgia’s Communities of Color Can Be Decided on January 5th
This year witnessed one of the most prolonged and unprecedented election seasons we have seen in recent times. Communities of color, particularly Black, Latino, and Indigenous populations, stepped up around the country to make sure their voices were heard in admirable acts of resilience and belief in our nation’s democratic process. Even while Black, Indigenous, and Latino populations dealt with the highest rates of COVID-19, died at disproportionately higher rates than any other group, and have struggled to keep a roof over their heads during the pandemic because of skyrocketing unemployment rates, difficulty in making rent payments, and evictions, they found a way to decisively impact the election by voting by mail, voting early, and voting on election day – but most importantly by making their voices heard in big numbers.
Now as COVID-19 cases continue to surge and relief remains elusive, it is even more important that people of color understand just how much is at stake in the U.S. Senate run-offs and feel empowered to participate in the democratic process again. It is unusual for a state to elect two Senators at once, but Georgians will do so because one of the contests is a special election to fill the remaining two years of the previous Senator’s term. With two seats to fill, it is especially vital that everyone take a stand and vote.
This year, nearly 150 million people voted in November, the largest turnout by percentage in more than a century in the United States. Communities of color showed up in record numbers and in many races, were the deciding factors. In Georgia, the margin for the Presidential election is still just 0.3 percent – a testament to the fact that every vote counts.
This is historic, considering that the world is simultaneously experiencing a global pandemic, which to this day has claimed the lives of more than 240,000 Americans. However, the work of democracy does not end.
This year has been unlike any other. It has been tough not only on our healthcare system and our economy but it also has caused many families immense grief and loss. Americans have struggled to put food on the table, care for their loved ones, homeschool their children, and deal with the stress of self-isolating, while also working or trying to find work. Even with this heavy burden to bear, Americans exercised their right to vote.
Voting in the January 5th, U.S. Senate Georgia run-offs is incredibly important. Not just because deciding who represents you in Congress shapes legislation, but because it directly affects our families, employment, economy, health care system, and communities overall. A senator’s job is to represent you and work toward advancing legislation that helps you directly. In most cases, the Senate and the House of Representatives have to agree on proposed legislation and the President has to sign it before it becomes law. These elected officials represent us and our ideals so it’s important we elect them to do their job and fight for our best interests, especially now.
Now let’s get into the details of these two races in Georgia:
- The first is a special election after Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson announced he would not seek re-election due to health problems. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican businesswoman, was appointed by Georgia’s Governor to fill Isakson’s unexpired term and is facing Head Pastor Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who currently leads the church that Martin Luther King Jr. once led. On Nov. 3, Loeffler received 25.9 percent of the vote and Warnock 32.9 percent.
- The second election also did not result in a winner because no candidate reached 50 percent of the vote. In this race, Republican Sen. David Perdue is up for re-election and received 49.7 percent of the vote. His opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, is a documentarian who received 47.9 percent of the vote.
- Voters can request an absentee ballot any time between 180 days prior to the election and the end of the business day on the Friday before Election Day. View a list of upcoming elections and registration deadlines on the Secretary of State’s election calendar. This way, you can vote by mail, vote early, or go vote in person on Jan. 5, if that is your preference. You must first register to vote here if you haven’t already done so. You can find your polling location here and please remember that the last day to register is Dec. 7. Early voting begins on Dec. 14, and Election Day will be on January 5th, 2021. Click here to view a sample ballot for the Georgia runoff elections.
Now that we are energized and have broken voting records, it is crucial more than ever that people turn out to vote during these two elections. We have seen that even with the COVID-19 virus, we the people are unstoppable. We have to keep doing the work and carry that same energy to the ballots on Jan. 5, 2021, in Georgia. It is essential that each American citizen participates in the democratic process and that we not only pay attention to presidential elections but are fully aware of how every elected official plays a crucial role in passing legislation that directly affects us.
We have discovered that even when facing a pandemic, we have the power to make our voices be heard. Georgia, you made history during the presidential election, and I believe you will do it again come Jan. 5, 2021. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to show this country that every vote matters and that minorities are united, engaged, and ready to change the game.