Avondale Alliance for Racial Justice holds get out the vote rallyAvondale Estates resident Amy Herr joined members of the Avondale Alliance for Racial Justice on Saturday, Nov. 21, for a rally to encourage people to vote and support Black Lives Matter. Photo by Zoe Seiler.
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By Zoe Seiler, contributor
Avondale Estates, GA – The Avondale Alliance for Racial Justice held a rally on the corner of North Avondale Road and Clarendon Avenue to encourage passersby to vote in the runoff elections.
On Saturday, Nov. 21, about 20 AARJ members and friends held up signs in the morning to show their support for Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock as well as for Black Lives Matter and Daniel Blackman, a Democrat running for the state Public Service Commission.
The group also handed out about 75 ziplock bags of snacks, masks, an AARJ flyer and a flyer with voting information. The voting flyer outlined the steps of the voting process, which include:
– Confirming voter registration and registering to vote, if needed,
– Requesting an absentee ballot, and
– Voting in person or through absentee ballot.
“We’re distributing flyers with voting plan information so that people know exactly how to get set up to vote in the runoff election,” said Sarah Galatioto-Ruff, an AARJ member. “Of course we’re promoting Warnock, Ossoff and Blackman for the three positions that are up because they’re gonna help us turn the Senate blue and, basically keep up with the progressive platform that we’re super excited Georgia seems to be on board with.”
She added that while the group is supporting their candidates, they just want people to make a plan to vote and be ready for the runoff elections.
Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats and a seat on the state Public Service Commission are currently in runoff elections.
Warnock is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the U.S. Senate special election. Jon Ossoff is competing against incumbent Sen. David Perdue in the regular U.S. Senate race.
Incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald and Daniel Blackman are running for the Public Service Commission which regulates Georgia’s utilities, including telephone service, natural gas and electricity.
The deadline to register to vote for these elections is Dec. 7, early voting begins on Dec. 14 and election day is Jan. 5. To register to vote, click here.
AARJ member, Calais Vandromme mentioned that the voting process can be confusing so the group wanted to provide educational materials.
“We found at one of our events that a lot of people weren’t sure how to go about registering, what the process was, what the rules are. it’s really confusing in the state of Georgia,” Vandromme said. “I think it’s important that everyone knows their rights.”
She added that sometimes people who are registered to vote don’t know how to find their polling place or don’t know how to update their address if needed, so the group wanted to help their neighbors navigate those issues.
“This year with absentee ballots you have this whole other level of complexity. The fact that you even have to fill out an application to request one is ridiculous, in my opinion,” Vandromme said. “I think (what’s) especially critical this year is helping with absentee ballot information for people that can’t go out in person for one reason or another.”
Those in attendance were trying to get their neighbors excited about the next election to help Georgia stay blue.
“We feel strongly that the best way to help our cause and bring racial justice to this country is through a Democratic-controlled Senate,” Vandromme said.
The AARJ focuses on racial justice and advocating for police reform. The group has been active in the city since the summer and is encouraging the City Commission to hire a consultant to review the Avondale Estates Police Department.
AARJ member Carol Calvert said it is important to show support for Black Lives Matter and to be aware that that message is more important than ever after almost half of U.S. voters supported President Donald Trump in the general election.
“(Now) more than ever we want to be out here visible for that message (and show) that we’re not going to stop,” Calvert said. “Biden winning is very much just the beginning so we need to get a lot of progressive legislation pushed through and see a lot of change in policies to begin to see us breaking down all the systems that support systemic racism.”
The AARJ will hold two additional get out the vote rallies before the runoff election on Dec. 12, and Jan. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon at the intersection of North Avondale Road and Clarendon Avenue.
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