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Do you vote?
Why we should care

By Newsha Moraveji
November 21, 2001
The Iranian

Campaigning for the Democratic ticket for the recent elections in Virginia were Mark Warner for Governor, Tim Kaine for Lt. Governor, Donald McEachin for Attorney General and a number of people competing to be delegates to the Virginia legislature, including Afshin Farashahi, an Iranian-American resident of Virginia Beach.

Encouraging Iranian Americans to vote for these Democrats was an army of concerned Iranians and other citizens involved with the Warner for Governor campaign. This group met regularly with representatives of Virginia's ethnic groups including Bangladeshi, Arab, Pakistani, Indian, Greek, Armenian, Eritrean and Muslim Americans, to find ways to encourage our communities to vote on November 6 and assist with the Democratic campaign.

Through generous donations of time, energy and resources, Iranian Americans were successful in recruiting volunteers and voters, raising funds, placing an advertisement in Iranian-eh Washington, participating in television programs, mobilizing Iranian university students, hosting an event which brought over 20 candidates to present their platforms to Virginia's ethnic communities, and drafting a political flier printed in Farsi, geared specifically to Iranians (the first I've seen around here!).

On Election Day the Democrats organized quite an operation! Volunteers from all Virginia's communities (including Iranians) scurried to mobilize and educate voters by passing out fliers and sample ballots at the polls, calling registered Democrats to remind them to vote and to offer them transportation to the polls, providing legal services in case of voting disputes, and making sure that all Virginia voters had access to the polls.

The expertly-coordinated plan was in effect from 5AM until well after the polls closed at 8PM. The energy was contagious, Virginia residents and others had spent months trying to get more Democrats elected into Virginia's government. I still can't believe the number of people who care so much about the governing of their state that they would give up their evenings, weekends and take off work on November 6 to make that happen. Wow!

Why should they care? Why should we Iranians care enough to vote, advocate for what we believe should be happening in the US or abroad, or run for office ourselves?

1. So that our opinions become integrated into this country as our money and our technical skills are.

2. So that we can live in a country where our names are easily pronounced and commonly heard as names of decisionmakers, award winners, actors, politicians, and business leaders.

3. So that we can break down stereotypes about people from our region of the world.

4. So that we can be sure decisionmakers take all viewpoints into consideration when making policy decisions.


* Join or start an Iranian Democrat/Republican/Green or other political club.

* Start or participate in a campaign to register and educate voters

* Before an election join efforts to mobilize voters in your community.

* Work on a candidate's campaign to learn campaign techniques and to show your support as an Iranian American.

* Run for political office. Convince your political party to nominate you.

If you would like more information about getting involved politically, please email me here.


Upcoming elections in the Washington area you can prepare for:

DC: September 2002 Primary Election and November 2002 General Election for:Mayor, Delegate to House of Representatives, Board of Education members

MD: September 2002 Primary Election and November 2002 General Election for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, seats to US Congress and MD House of Delegates, judges, county officials

VA: May 2002 Primary Election and November 2002 General Election for city and school board officials, mayors, US Senator and Representatives Nationally: 2004 Primary and General Election for President

Please check these websites to register to vote, find out how to run for office, see a detailed schedule of elections, and for other information. If you don't live in the Washington area, inquire with your state's Election Board.

(MD) www.elections.state.md.us

(VA) www.sbe.state.va.us

(DC) www.dcboee.org


Newsha Moraveji was active in mobilizing Iranian American voters and volunteers for the November 6 elections in Virginia. She has also been active in numerous other social justice activities.

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