Young people and People of Color were vital in securing Democratic election victories across the country. As the nation focuses its eyes on Georgia’s Senate Runoff Elections, organizations such as March On were crucial in getting out the vote.
March On is an organization focused on mobilizing the masses to create political power. March On frequently assists organizations fighting for social justice, climate change, and civil rights through mass mobilization. March On began the #VotewithUsGA bus tour to increase voter turnout in the Senate runoff elections. Andi Pringle is the Political and Strategic Campaigns Director at March On. Maci Hall is a Georgia native, political activist, and the Georgia State Director for March On. The Chicago Defender had a chance to speak with both about the Georgia Election and the significance of the youth and black vote.
Chicago Defender: What has been your experience in Georgia speaking and encouraging people to vote? What’s the mood of the people in Georgia?
Andi Pringle: People in Georgia know that history is watching and that their vote will decide so much about the entire country’s future. That’s why they’re showing up in record numbers. More than 3 million people cast early ballots, which is a record, and we’ve had a huge influx of new voters since November. They’re excited about being involved in the democratic process, but they also take it very seriously because they know what’s at stake.
Chicago Defender: We’ve seen the long lines of people waiting to vote. How motivated are people of color to vote in Georgia? What, if any, are examples of obstacles faced during this process? Any issues of voter suppression?
Andi Pringle: People are highly motivated to vote. Voter suppression is insidious. It has damaged the electoral process here in Georgia with the closing of polling places in majority Black precincts and a massive, cynical, coordinated disinformation campaign designed to convince Black voters not to bother to vote. But our organizing is focused on reaching those voters with facts and information about how and where they can vote safely and on working to protect their votes. You’ve seen the long lines, and it’s inspiring to see that people are showing up anyway and waiting for as long as it takes. But that sight shouldn’t be heart-warming for anybody—it should be viewed as a disgrace that this kind of institutional disenfranchisement is still at work in America.
Chicago Defender: Our votes counted and mattered this year like never before. With the Georgia election, the stakes are high. How have young people engaged differently this year?
Maci Hall: Young people get it—they understand what’s at stake, and their massive turnout in November showed that they realize the power they have to decide elections and set the agenda at all levels of government. They’re engaging in massive numbers through some of the typical avenues like text banking, phone banking, and canvassing, but they’re also organizing on their own to make sure their friends and family vote, too. There have been text banking virtual birthday parties, skate to the polls events, socially distanced concerts, and lots of other creative engagements that are boosting turnout and generating excitement, even in the middle of a pandemic.
Chicago Defender: What made this election different as opposed to previous years? What are young people saying is most important to them in this election?
Maci Hall: In a word, Trump. The current president has built a platform out of racism, hatred, misogyny, anti-immigrant sentiment, and—frankly, as we’ve seen—anti-democracy and these ideas run wholly counter to the values that young people hold. This generation of young people believes in inclusion, equity, and fairness, and they definitely believe in democracy and making this country better for everyone. That’s why they’re showing up like never before.
Chicago Defender: How do we continue to engage young adults in the political process?
Maci Hall: We need to remember that young people care about the world and always have. They have the most at stake because they have the most years ahead of them. Candidates need to remember that young people are their constituents too. They should adopt their issues into their policy platforms. Elected officials also need to show that they’re listening by following through on their promises to their young constituents. Our leaders like to say that they care about young people—we say, “prove it.”
For more information on March On, visit their website https://www.wearemarchon.org/.
Interim Managing Editor Danielle Sanders is a writer and journalist living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSandersOfficial.