- Faith & Family
Florida is one of 15 states that has changed its election laws since GOP-dominated legislatures took over in 2010. And while the rhetoric is that these laws were necessary to avoid voter fraud, many critics say that the changes only make it more difficult for certain voters to exercise their rights as U.S. citizens. These voters include minorities, senior citizens, those who have recently moved and college students — people who helped President Barack Obama secure victory.
Now a Generation X-led national movement, Young & Powerful for Obama (YPO), geared at re-electing Obama in 2012, has established a Miami base. Their members say that changes in election laws and Republican opposition at the state and national levels have only increased their determination to keep Obama in the White House.
“Young & Powerful for Obama started in Chicago back in 2008 and in just four days we were able to raise $150,000 in seven cities,” said Fabiola Fleuranvil, chair for Miami’s YPO. “Our goal is to duplicate those efforts and to begin to fan out into other cities. We started in September and there are now groups in LA, New York City, Washington, D.C., Springfield (IL) and of course Chicago. We will have the official kickoff in Miami in February and in Charlotte (NC) in March. This is a movement founded by young professionals who are civically-minded.”
Fleuranvil says one of the goals of the group is to reduce voter apathy.
“When the president was elected young people were excited — we have to generate that same kind of enthusiasm again,” she said. “We have to get grassroots organizations to get busy now, persuade young adults to volunteer their time and of course, donate money. It’s imperative that we talk to our friends — those who are closest to us — and get them fired up about the 2012 election.”
New media is key in communication
Social media is one of the primary tools used by the members of YOP. They employ Facebook, Twitter and a host of other online services to communicate with one another. In addition, they focus on peer-to-peer contact which as one members says, makes for more personal interactions.
Alex Casillas, 32, is another co-chair for the Miami contingency who says he is optimistic about the 2012 election.
“This is all about making sure President Obama gets another term,” he said. “He’s doing the right things. Now there are things we must do as well like making sure people know how to register to vote and talking about the new barriers that make it tougher for people to vote.”
LaTanya Casillas, 29, believes that the mission of young voters like her and the other YOP members is to refocus citizens on the real issues.
“We see a lot of propaganda about the new voting laws and the voting process — we have to share the truth with members of our community and with our friends,” she said. “It’s vital that we make sure every vote counts.”
“The president still needs us and it will be more challenging this time around for him to win — that’s why we are starting now,” Fleuranvil said.
By D. Kevin McNeir