haitians vote in georgia runoff
Candidates in the Georgia Senate runoff elections, left to right: Jon Ossoff, Sen. David Perdue, Raphael Warnock and Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Courtesy of Fox News

By Sam Bojarski

Candidates in the Georgia Senate runoff elections, left to right: Jon Ossoff, Sen. David Perdue, Raphael Warnock and Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Courtesy of Fox News

The Haitian American Voters Empowerment (HAVE) coalition is honing in on Georgia, to turn out the state’s Haitian-American electorate for the pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections

“We’re working with groups on the ground in Georgia to have a voter registration drive,” said Vanessa Joseph, city clerk for North Miami and chair of HAVE. “We’ll be having a series of events in December every Saturday to encourage people to register to vote.” 

The outcome of the two Jan. 5 runoff elections will determine whether or not the Republican Party maintains control of the Senate. 

This Saturday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., HAVE will co-host a virtual town hall event to rally the vote. The event will be broadcast on the Georgia Haitian American Citizens Facebook group, created by HAVE, and via Zoom. Speakers include Georgia state representatives Erick E. Allen, of District 40 and Miriam Paris, who represents District 142

“They’ll be speaking about the impact that our voting can make, given that the coming elections may be decided by fewer than tens of thousands of votes,” said Saurel Quettan, president of the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, a HAVE partner. 

More than 50,000 Haitian-Americans reside in Georgia. While the exact number of registered voters is unclear, small margins could determine the runoff races. In the November presidential election, less than 12,000 voters flipped the state for President-elect Joe Biden.

In the runoffs, incumbent Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face respective Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. Early voting begins Dec. 14

Events to engage the Haitian-American electorate are being planned throughout December. A Dec. 19 virtual town hall will likely feature Ossoff and Warnock, either live or via recorded video statements. Karen Andre, who served as a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, is a confirmed speaker for Dec. 19, Quettan said. 

In addition to virtual Saturday events leading up to Jan. 5, Haitian community leaders are also planning a public walk in Atlanta. While a date has not yet been determined, Quettan said the event will gather Haitian-American voters to literally stand together for the Haitian agenda. 

Speaking as an individual, Quettan contrasted the immigration policies of Perdue and Ossoff. The latter candidate favors a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the country without documentation. 

“We’re voting for a commitment to an aspect of the Haitian agenda that is critical to many of our brothers and sisters,” Quettan said, about the importance of protecting immigrants. 

To register for the Zoom broadcast of the Dec. 12 virtual town hall, click here

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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