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It’s election time for Georgia! The debate on whether or not to vote is already brewing up in conversations across the board. Since Georgia tends to vote red, Muslim democrats may feel no point of casting a vote. And even for those who are democrats, the decision becomes trickier when Democratic candidates show support on certain policy issues that generally Muslims may not be of support. This can make Muslim citizens feel alienated as neither party, democratic or republican, appears to be a good fit for their political views.
Nevertheless, it still very important for Muslims to vote, according to politicians. As a minority community, Muslims will not gain any traction in the political arena until they are willing to fully participate in the process. This includes lobbying, donating, and, of course, voting. Only until Muslims can show politicians they are willing to vote and, that by voting, they can change the outcome of the election, will politicians really begin focusing on Muslim-Americans’ political concerns. In fact, politicians will start to actively reach out to the Muslim community as they do to other politically active communities across Georgia and the United States.
Nicholas Juliano, Political Director of the Young Democrats of Atlanta, believes in establishing an active voting community. He is a native Atlantan who has been active in the Georgia political and policy community since 2009. As a veteran of city hall and the Democratic Party of Georgia, Juliano has been involved in municipal, state, and national political campaigns, holding positions in field and political organizing. Here’s why Juliano believes Georgia Muslims should vote in the upcoming elections:
Q: Nick, you recently spoke about Voter Registration alongside Michelle Nunn, Jason Carter, and Michelle Obama. From your perspective, why is it important for individuals to vote, particularly minorities?
A: If you want to have an impact on how issues are decided for your community, you need to vote. There's a misconception that "one vote doesn't matter," but we've seen many races over the years come down to a few hundred, or dozen votes. Right now, if just 50 more democrats per precinct in Georgia voted, this state would be blue through and through.
In some communities, particularly immigrant communities, participation in politics is often viewed with a degree of skepticism. But joining the political process and having your voice heard is critical to the functioning of our democracy.
Q: Historically, it seems as if young professionals and minorities are the least likely demographic to vote. Why do you think that is?
A: Research shows that young people and some minority groups have traditionally felt apathetic towards politics and isolated from policy making. Their response has been to not vote, or to only vote in presidential elections. These off-year elections, however, are very important. Oftentimes, who your senator, representative, governor, city council member, state senator or state representative is will actually have a bigger impact on your community than who the president is.
This year, we have a great crop of democratic candidates from the top of the ticket, to the bottom of it.
Q: As a follow-up to that question, how do you think leaders can encourage voting in their communities? Can you tell us about any examples where community leaders were able to successfully encourage their community to vote?
A: Voter registration rallies held by credible community figures go a long way towards engaging folks. Also, reaching out to candidates for candidate forums, appearances at events, and speaking engagements is a great way to fire people up.
Q: Some of the readers might be interested in registering to vote, how can they go about doing that?
A: Check out www.mygavote.com to register. You have until October 6th to register to vote and then early voting begins on October 13. I'd like to encourage folks to vote early starting October 13 and tell others to do the same. That's a great way to increase turnout and get out the word.
Q: I hear a lot of people talking about how difficult it is to find information about the candidates on the ballot. Can you recommend a good resource for our readers to use to learn more about the candidates?
A: Jim Galloway's Political Insider has great coverage of the races and the candidates all have their respective websites. The best way to learn about a candidate is to engage with their campaign or try to meet him/her. I would say find out where all they're going to be and interact with their campaigns if you can.
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