Election Education Event Recap
Sep 23, 2020 09:33AM
By Nana Ama Addo
On Friday, September 18th, 2020, FunTimes hosted its bi-weekly FunTimes Friday event. This time, the virtual event was themed ‘Election Education,’ and shared resources for voting in the 2020 election. Panelists Emma Tramble (President of Wiser Strategies and Community and Voter Engagement Strategist at My Family Votes), Mark Harrell (Director of Outreach for the Philadelphia Register of Wills) and Charles Anyigbo (a Political Analyst from London) led an informative session on voting resources, the international impact of US events and elections, and the importance of engaging in this civic duty.
Emma’s organization, My Family Votes, serves to provide education for communities to empower themselves to vote. She acknowledges the anxiety that COVID has brought upon voters, and assures audiences that mailing in their ballots is safe. She says “If you know how voting works, especially with the mail in votes, you will be less afraid, because there is actually a way to track it... If you don’t have (internet) access, you have friends that have access. All they need is your birthdate, and you can look it up online. It will tell you ‘this is where your ballot is’.” She advises communities to visit her website at www.myfamilyvotes.com to stay up to date with voting information and resources.
“When the US sneezes, the world catches a cold,” says Charles, stating that US happenings impact the globe. He urges US citizens not to underestimate their influence, specifically Black communities: “The world is looking at the Afro-Americans based on what has been happening. Black Lives Matter has had tremendous impact on the rest of the world, including the UK. Where I work, now they are bringing in Equality programs.” He encourages communities to vote by any means necessary, and encourages people in the US to ask themselves “Do they want to hold the world in their own hands or do they want others to decide for them? Whatever it takes, African Americans must go vote.”
In comparing the Democratic and Republican manifestos, Charles tells audiences “The Democratic Party wants to have a relationship with the world, unlike the Republican Party, which is more influenced by Trump than anything else. They don’t regard the UN or International Relations, which they refer to as ‘the global swamp’. Furthermore, the Republican Party says “Only immigrants that have got the means will be admitted to the United States,” but how does that impact people who are refugees?”
Mark encourages Philadelphia residents to get involved with the voting process, and says that some volunteers are compensated for their time. In commending young people for the bravery exuded during this year’s Civil Rights protests throughout the country, Mark says “Lets harness that energy and put it into things that’s going to work, like the election on November 3rd…We have lived through enslavement, lynching, were still here and we’re resilient.”
In addition to voting for the president, Mark says it is very important to look at the judges and Supreme Court, and voting overall in a more holistic way. “The chances of you coming before one of these judges is much greater than you coming before a president…Judges control every aspect of your life. See who the candidates are, their community involvement and why they want to sit on the bench. We have to become educated about the entire process. The judicial branch determines a lot of what we do every day when we wake up.”
Emma adds “Activists are very worried about this election. Judges have so much power, down to the nuanced level on our lives, including voter suppression laws currently happening and Black women’s natural hair in the workplace. It’s very visceral. Anyone who has issues they care about, including voting rights, access to healthcare, quality healthcare, should be interested in voting.
To be elected as a judge is a lifetime appointment. There is also a consolidation of power in the Senate, the judiciary and more that combines to form a system. We have to learn how to work the system.
When you opt out, your non-vote is a vote, and no matter who is in office, their decisions will impact your life, whether you walk into the booth or not… Also, mail-in voting is not for procrastinators. You have to do it right now.”
Thank you to our panelists and attendees for the wisdom, advice and sharing of resources. Check out more voting resources here .