Voter registration may be over for anyone seeking to vote in the April 19 presidential primary (FYI it’s not too late to register for the main thing, aka General Election in November), but Fort Greene community leaders definitely made the most of the time they had.
Over at Ingersoll Houses, Residents Association Co-Presidents Darold Burgess and Anthony Sosa — with help from 57th Assembly District Leader Olanike Alabi — brought voter registration to residents, many of whom would otherwise not be able to register — senior citizens who can’t make it to the Board of Elections or aren’t familiar with online forms, busy parents, and newly eligible young adults who need the reminder.
“This is our first time organizing a Voter Registration Drive and a poll worker drive,” said Burgess from their information table at the Residents Association office at 16 Fleet Walk, #1D. “This year we have four elections and a lot of young people that turned 18 and are not registered voters.
“That’s why I’m getting a jump on it,” he continued. “It’s very important to vote because if your’e not a registered voter you don’t have voice in your community. If you want to be active, it’s important. Also, to know what’s going on so you can inform [fellow] residents.”
Among those issues? “Rezoning,” housing, health care, and more.
“There’s so much going on in Brooklyn. Residents need to feel aware of what’s going on,” Burgess explained. “A majority of our population is seniors. They don’t get out and can’t get access to certain things, so we try to bring back all the information to help them get what they need to survive. Finances are horrendous, people can’t afford food. So we knock on their doors and make sure they are okay when they don’t have home attendants. We had a resident in her late 90s who fell and was found because a neighbor checked on her.
“And the children as well. A lot of children and parents need help, whether mental and counseling, or community support,” he said.
The site at Ingersoll is also open to residents of the neighboring Walt Whitman Houses.
Thus far, said Burgess, they have managed to enlist several people interested in working as poll workers, and even more registered to vote.
“Staffing levels at many of our polling sites have decreased and therefore, there is a need for new workers. It’s a great opportunity for those who are looking to make extra money while making the democratic process work,” noted Alabi, who has also been helping groups in Crown Heights with organizing voter registration drives.
Over 100 newly-turned-18-year-olds also registered to vote, thanks to efforts made during Student Voter Registration Day on March 18. Ingersoll Community Center’s Samantha Johnson volunteered to help get them registered, at Progress HS and the HS for Enterprise, Business and Technology, where 57- 63% of the youth are Hispanic and 35-36% are black.
Residents and youth, who missed these drives can still come to the community center or Residents Association office to pick up registration cards!