DC37 pushes people to the primary polls
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 9/21/2012, 3:12 p.m.
With Tuesday's primaries the most intense vote in some time, local unions led the charge in getting the vote out. District Council 37 (DC37) has been part of a campaign to increase voter turnout, specifically with its members. Before the results were known for each of the key primaries, the AmNews spoke with DC37 Political Action Director Wanda Williams about the strategies she employed to make sure their constituents were at the polls.
"We've been calling our members since 8 this morning, reminding them that it's primary day. Then at noon, we started calling people again to make sure they got out," said Williams. "We made notations on each call so we could call again at 3. We're doing the same now for the 6 p.m. call."
But Williams said the phone calls were just the culmination of a longer process. DC37 also sent their constituents literature through the mail. "One [was sent] educating them about the June primary and endorsement of our five candidates," said Williams. "We sent out a letter from [DC37 President Lillian] Roberts to the members and then we followed up with another postcard reminding them that today is election day."
Among DC37's endorsements were New York City Councilman Charles Barron for Congress and incumbent Reps. Charlie Rangel, Yvette Clarke and Nydia Velazquez.
But Williams and company didn't just limit themselves to getting the word out to vote; they also took calls about problems at the polls, especially in Rangel's district, which was recently a product of redistricting.
"We have gotten some calls from some of our members in Rangel's district, which is of concern," said Williams. "People are going to the polling stations and buffer cards aren't at the locations they usually vote, and then at some locations they are no longer in his district. Those members weren't notified by the Board of Elections that the district was reconfigured.
"We received some very angry phone calls from people who were dismayed. We told them to go back to demand that they get an affidavit ballot--an affidavit ballot is a paper ballot put in an envelope that allows people to vote if their name isn't on the list and even if the person isn't sure they're in the right polling place," she said.
In the case that any of the candidates DC37 endorsed didn't make it past Tuesday's primary, Williams said she would re-evaluate the winners to begin the process all over again in September.
Many of our members are going to be intricately involved in the election," said Williams. "We'll be informing out members and they will be working again on Sept. 13. We have an active social network and we will be active with council meetings and community association meetings."