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Elections, Florida, Immigrant Voices

Biden-Harris teams target Florida Haitians, urge voting-by-mail as election nears

By Larisa Karr

A newly-created group to bolster Haitian-American support for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has kicked off voter outreach activities in Florida with a virtual town hall Sept. 11. During the event organized by “Ayisyen Pou Biden,” Creole for Haitians For Biden, the most senior Haitian-Americans on the Harris-Biden campaign emphasized the importance of Haitian voters in winning the battleground state.

Karine Jean-Pierre, chief of staff to vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, said the possibility of President Donald Trump getting re-elected scares her and that it is imperative for Haitians to organize aggressively. 

“Haitians know how to organize, how to get people engaged, and how to get people out there,” Jean-Pierre said in a brief appearance. “It is so critical for us to vote early, to make sure that you engage your community.”

Karen Andre, senior advisor to Biden’s Florida campaign, said the Sunshine State is particularly important because only a one-percent margin divides the winner and the loser.

“Trump cannot make it to the White House if he doesn’t carry Florida,” Andre said. “We get to be a seismic part of this electoral season.”

To that end, several speakers at the town hall, streamed from Fort Lauderdale, said the campaign strongly urges voters to cast mail-in ballots and is launching several initiatives to strengthen the Haitian voting bloc. 

A first step is making sure that everyone eligible to vote is registered, the leaders said. Outreach programs include “Souls to the Polls,” which entails working with Haitian faith leaders to reach church members, and “Small Business Mondays,” which will focus on helping local businesses educate community members about Biden’s campaign and the upcoming election. A third, “Brother To Brother/Sister To Sister,” offers community members an avenue to discuss day-to-day issues they face.

Soon, Democrats will begin airing ads in Creole on radio and television stations throughout Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, two areas with large Haitian populations. 

Also, a Voter Protection Team to monitor voting issues across the state and a hotline with Creole translators will be available to help voters address difficulties with voting.

“I understand how important the Haitian constituency is to winning Florida,” said Clifton Addison, the Coalitions Director for the Florida Democratic Party. “We need to make sure that we turn Florida blue.”

Larisa Karr

Larisa is a New York-based reporter who has worked in different countries for various publications. She majored in mass communication and international studies and minored in photography at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. In 2018, she moved to NYC to study international reporting at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. She has worked in the U.S., Canada, and Serbia, covering everything from the 2017 Women's March to persecution of journalists in Turkey. In addition to writing, she enjoys street photography and hosted two radio shows while pursuing her undergraduate degree. She is passionate about traveling and her three cats, Leo, Lady, and Caesar.
Sep. 14, 2020

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