Posted by Guest on June 29, 2018 in Blog
By Hana Illikkal, Yalla Vote: MA intern
On Friday, June 29th, Steven Austerer and I set up a voter registration booth in the Selimiye Mosque in Methuen, MA for the Friday prayer to encourage the Arab American and Muslim communities to take full advantage of the political power they possess in a democracy, make sure their voices are heard, and vote. We were able to do this at the Islamic Society of Greater Haverhill as well and were even graciously welcomed to set up a table at their Community Appreciation Day celebration on June 30th.
At the Methuen and Haverhill mosques, I reached out to the women in the congregation and found them to be very receptive and enthusiastic. Many signed “Commit to Vote” cards, eager to receive updates about political news and promising to vote in the next election. One mother and professor spoke to me about how she constantly reminds her students to vote but feels like she should be doing more. Another woman reflected these same sentiments of not having enough time.
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Trump’s Muslim Ban and the timing of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement jolted many in the Arab American and Muslim communities into realizing that sitting quietly and waiting for change would not be an option. One cannot complain about the results of an election if they do not do their part and vote. As I stood with a clipboard of voter registration forms and Commit to Vote cards in my hand, I was most surprised by the number of kids ages 12-18 who approached me. Their eagerness to register to vote and their disappointment when some learned they were not yet old enough leaves me hopeful for what this country’s youth can achieve through their political participation.
By Lauren Lee, Yalla Vote: MA intern
On Sunday, July 8th, Steven Austerer, Hana Illikkal, Zaina Qamar, and I canvassed for Yalla Vote in the streets of Cambridge, MA to encourage not only Arab Americans but everyone to register to vote. Since in Massachusetts there is pre-voter registration, we focused on the areas near the university campuses where there is a strong youth concentration. Our team divided into pairs and targeted different locations to reach the greatest number of people possible. My pair discovered a flea market nearby and was able to canvass a considerable number of young voters in particular, mostly students from nearby colleges.
One of my colleagues met a person who was initially adamant about not voting in the upcoming elections, arguing that politics was not the greatest concern of our society. This person, and others I encountered as well, expressed feelings of helplessness and skepticism about whether their voting could have an impact on changing our society for the better. During these instances, we each reminded them of the devastating turn of recent events including the Supreme Court’s approval of Trump’s Muslim Ban and the urgency of our community to step up for our rights and use our voices, our votes to restore American society’s deep-rooted democratic beliefs. With this reminder, many of the people we met changed their minds and completed registration forms.
Interns supervisor: Steven Austerer, Yalla Vote Field Organizer: MA