Labor Takes to the Airwaves to Protect Voting Rights

10-27-08, 11:32 am

Aimed at protecting the voting rights of minority voters, the AFL-CIO last week launched a special voters' rights protection program accompanied by a series of radio ads in several major cities across the country.

The special voting rights protection program will focus on several battleground states: Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, and Florida. But it will also include cities in Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi. The goal is to provide resources and educational materials to Latino and African American voters about their voting rights in order to prevent violations on Election Day, Nov. 4th.

The effort will be led by local labor leaders and unions in coalition with faith-based groups, civil rights organizations, civil liberties and civil rights attorneys, and community groups.

As part of the program, the AFL-CIO created Spanish-language radio advertising, starring actor Edward James Olmos, which details voter protections issues. In addition the labor federation has published a bi-lingual flier called a 'Voter Bill of Rights' that highlights the voting laws and requirements of specific states. The bilingual fliers are being distributed to 20,000 voters in Nevada and New Mexico.

In addition, AFL-CIO affiliate, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), has launched a 'Tu voz es mi voz' (your voice is my voice) campaign aimed at reaching thousands of Latino voters prior to the election.

As part of this campaign, union members will be canvassing in cities with significant Latino populations who may be able to impact the election's outcome. Canvassers will be distributing voter information in Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan, Philadelphia and Allentown, Pennsylvania, and cities in Northern Virginia.

Town hall meetings on voter rights are scheduled for several communities in central Florida. In addition bi-lingual radio ads are set to air in cities in Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as 14 other key media markets across the country.

The labor federation is also recruiting volunteer nonpartisan poll monitors to help address voting problems such as long lines, the misuse of provisional ballots, and improper demands for voter identification.

'It's time to turn around America, and we will start by protecting our right to vote and making sure that every single vote is counted,' said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, in a press statement. 'Many Hispanics will be first time voters in this election, making them especially vulnerable to voter intimidation and misinformation, which is why we are making a special effort to reach out and educate them.'

Radio ads with similar messages about voting rights and designed to reach African American voters will be aired in key cities such as Detroit, St, Louis, Philadelphia, Jackson, Mississippi, Toledo, Ohio among others. These ads will feature hip-hop artist Ludacris and TV's Judge Mathis.

'The overall objective of our voter protection campaign is to have the nation's citizens successfully get to the polls, cast ballots, and have their ballots counted,' said American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Andrea E. Brooks. 'Americans cannot continue to have their ability to participate in the democratic process taken away from them.'