In Final Hours, Sanders Volunteers Urge Southern Brooklyn To Vote

In Final Hours, Sanders Volunteers Urge Southern Brooklyn To Vote
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As many as 28,000 gathered to hear presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak in Prospect Park yesterday. (Photo: Sarah Crean)

It’s down to the wire now, as polls are set to open in a little more than 12 hours.

The Flatbush Avenue campaign office of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was abuzz with activity late last night as volunteers phoned area residents who have expressed an interest in Sanders, urging them to help get the vote out for tomorrow’s Democratic primary.

Sanders, who has spent considerable time campaigning in South Brooklyn and is the only candidate from either political party to open an office here, said pointedly at his Prospect Park rally yesterday that he does far better in primary elections when voter turnout is higher.

Polls show a more competitive New York race than could have been imagined just a couple months ago. As of Sunday night, Hillary Clinton’s lead over Sanders hovered somewhere between 6 and 12 percentage points, the Guardian reported.

In the last few weeks, Sanders’ Flatbush campaign office has coordinated 400 to 500 volunteers who have been going door to door in our area, encouraging registered Democrats to vote on Tuesday. Hundreds more volunteers have been sent to other parts of South Brooklyn, said Paul Sliker, a grassroots organizer with the campaign.

In addition to Greater Flatbush, neighborhoods like Canarsie, Bay Ridge, and Coney Island have been targeted for the final get-out-the-vote push.

Blitzes at local subways stations are also underway, Sliker said. In its final hours, the Sanders campaign is calling on “as many people as possible” to get New Yorkers to the polls.

The vast majority of the volunteers at Sanders’ Flatbush office last night were quite young, age 30 and under, and racially diverse. Sanders’ appeal to young people is a huge bonus, but also has specific challenges, Sliker observed.

Young people — millennials — are used to performing many critical functions on-line. But voting must happen in person. “A lot of these people have never voted before,” Sliker said. “They have never voted physically.”

One volunteer, a 23-year-old man named Eric, said that he was simply walking past the Sanders Flatbush Avenue campaign office one day, and decided to join the effort.

“I believe in Bernie, that’s all I can say,” Eric told us. “Politicians are liars [but]  Sanders gets straight to the point. He tackles the key issues.”

Another young volunteer George Amoithe, 27, told us that Sanders was “unprecedented” in pushing the Democratic party to “reorient” itself and return to the principles of Franklin Roosevelt and social democracy.

“After the Great Depression and World War II, there was a social contract,” Amoithe said. “If you worked hard, you got a fair shake.” Sanders is fighting to “reclaim” those “social protections,” Amoithe argued.

And what happens if Sanders loses? Is all the political energy on view in South Brooklyn going to disappear after the campaign?

“I’ve registered hundreds of voters in this campaign,” Michael Seldon, a 25-year-old volunteer, told us. Seldon added, “I will still be involved…I’ve been able to influence the political process.”

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