The black vote is powerful.

Andrew Gillum winning the Democratic primary in Florida and Justin Fairfax being elected to lieutenant governor last year for the state of Virginia, was largely due to the Black vote. Since being elected, Fairfax has put efforts forward that have helped 400,000 low-income residents in the state of Virginia receive Medicaid. By recognizing our influence, we can work towards electing Black candidates that are focused on bringing forth issues and policies important to our communities.

According to the New York Times, Black women were the highest rated group that voted across race, gender and ethnicity in the 2012 presidential elections.

With the 2018 midterm election approaching, it is especially essential for us to utilize our right to vote in an effort to build Black political power. Police brutality, college debt, affordable housing, prison reform, education and healthcare are just a few of the many issues that need to be addressed in our community and one vote can help ignite political change.

Midterm elections will allow us to decide which officials will take control of federal and state houses across the nation for the last half of President Trump’s term.

All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are open but only 48 are considered competitive. Currently the House is comprised of mostly Republican Party members. Out of the 100 United States Senate seats, there are 35 of them up for grabs. There are also 36 Governor races and thousands of state-level representatives that will be voted in or out of office as well.

As DeJuana Thompson, creator of Woke Vote put it, “We know that the main way to build Black political power is to vote in elections." Voting is not only vital to American democracy, but it’s also a way to make sure our voices are being heard.

Although young Black voters may believe their votes don’t matter, it’s crucial to remember the struggles that our community has faced and continue to face in order to vote. Voter suppression tactics like voter ID laws, gerrymandering and the purging of voters directly affect the Black community. In Randolph County, Georgia, the election board proposed closing 7 of it’s polling places in this predominantly Black community. Due to the public outrage the attempt at voter suppression was rejected.

Voting is especially important for those living in swing states. Based on the 2000 and 2016 election, candidates Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the general election. According to the Washington Post, 107,000 votes in just three states decided who won in the 2016 election.

Millennials account for one-third of the electorate and young voters are more likely to support such issues like legalization of marijuana, criminal justice reform, and combating police abuse of power.  

CNN reports that, “between 2005 and April 2017, 80 officers had been arrested on murder or manslaughter charges for on-duty shootings” and that, “during that 12-year span, 35% were convicted, while the rest were pending or not convicted." By electing new district attorneys, we can change that. Proof of this is Stephanie Morales, a prosecutor who made history by becoming the first black woman to be elected Virginia Commonwealth’s attorney. She was also one of a few prosecutors who won a case in a conviction of a white police officer who killed a Black person.

Our vote has the ability to elect new leaders who make Black issues their priority, but first we have to show up and vote. Organizations like NextGen Black Lives Rising are doing their part by working across HBCUs to register voters and educate new voters on issues that impact their everyday lives.

When it comes to the strength of the Black vote there is no limit to our collective power. It is up to all of us to make sure we are registered to vote and that we turnout on election day.

Together we will make sure our voices are heard.

Paid for by NextGen Climate Action Committee;; not authorized by any candidate or candidates committee.