Black-owned nonprofit to boost voter turnout this election season

TATYANA BELLAMY-WALKER | 11/1/2018, 1 p.m.
As Myriame Satine of Brownsville, Brooklyn walked home from a supermarket in East Flatbush, two weeks ago she heard a ...
Voter registration Tatyana Bellamy-Walker

As Myriame Satine of Brownsville, Brooklyn walked home from a supermarket in East Flatbush, two weeks ago she heard a car blasting “Vote Equals Voice!” on a nearby street corner.

“Let me see what’s going on over there,” recalled Satine, 45, who last voted in the 2008 presidential election because her work schedule conflicts with poll site hours. “I don’t like seeing the country divided, so let me do something.”

Volunteers at East Flatbush Village, a community development group, spotted Satine on the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Empire Boulevard and gave the mother of one 13-year-old son a long overdue voter registration form.

With midterm elections less than two weeks away, East Flatbush Village hopes to counter low voter turnout with nearly 50 youth volunteers registering voters and assisting at local polling sites. The organization has created a series of pop-up voter registration drives over the past month to improve the district’s stake in local elections.

In October, the group partnered with Common Cause New York, a non-partisan watchdog group, to provide free voter registration training to youth at the organization’s headquarters in East Flatbush.

Residents are guided through a complicated pre-voting process with volunteers verifying registration status, eligibility and informing ex-parolees of their voting rights.

Two years ago, Victor Reddick, 34, of Crown Heights said he was referred to the wrong polling site, which was about nine blocks away from the first location.

“Having to go through a rigmarole just to cast my vote is annoying,” said Reddick, who then alerted poll workers. “I stood on the line, just to get up there and be told I was not on that log.”

Reddick said the call-to-action pushed him to re-register.

“Hearing her over the bullhorn I thought let me just do this now. It was easy just one, two, three,” said Reddick, while snapping his fingers.

Voters are often confused about the location of their polling site. One way East Flatbush Village is trying to combat this issue is by helping residents use The New York City Board of Elections’ Lookup, a database with assigned voting sites.

“Our voice matters,” said Monique Waterman, the founder of East Flatbush Village Inc. “Some people think, ‘I can’t do anything [to help].’ Yes, you can. Just an hour or two that you think is a little bit can go a long way.”

During the primary election in September, Anthony Beckford, an activist of East Flatbush, saw firsthand the struggles of poorly trained poll workers. While at a polling site, Bedford said, a poll worker told an elderly woman she cast her vote but failed to see that another voter signed on her slot.

“Anything can happen that keeps people from voting,” he added. “Not a lot of people will question it. They’d head home.”