Do you vote?
Why we should care
By Newsha Moraveji
November 21, 2001
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
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.
HOW CAN YOU MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
* Join or start an Iranian Democrat/Republican/Green or other political
* 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
If you would like more information about getting involved politically,
please email me here.
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR FUTURE ELECTION ACTIVITIES
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
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.