Voting advocates work to get out the Black vote

Voting advocates work to get out the Black vote
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 8:37 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Get out the Black vote. That is what voting advocacy groups Black Voters Matter and the Ohio Unity Coalition were working towards during their rally at Smith Park in Toledo.

Energy was high, but there was one core message behind the festivities: make sure you get out and vote.

Ronsha Allison came to the rally to support her pastor, who is running for Toledo Public School Board. She already cast her ballot, and is now focused on getting other people to the polls.

“It is important to our Black community, make sure you go out and vote, either early vote or November the 7th,” Allison said. “Your voice matters. Go out and vote. Don’t allow yourself or no one to steal that from you.”

The Black Voters Matter Bus rolled into the parking lot to lead a caravan to the early voting site. Toledo was one of several stops the bus made in cities across Ohio.

Alethea Bonello, the deputy national field director for Black Voters Matter, said that during the tour, she heard community members’ concerns and encouraged them to use their political power.

“People are just frustrated about what’s happening,” Bonello said. “They’re concerned more so about surviving in these times, but the surest thing is that every year, we have an election.”

She said that voting can create an impact that will last for years to come.

“We believe that the highest form of love is voting, because when we vote we allow to bring people into positions that are going to affect our lives for many years to come, and even our children’s lives,” Bonello said. “So it’s important that today, during early voting, as well as on November 7th, people get out and vote.”

Organizers encouraged others to make a voting plan and vote early if they know their schedule won’t work on election day.

“Our power is in our vote,” Petee Talley, the executive director of Ohio Unity Coalition said. “We’re voting on these issues to protect our rights, our power and our freedom, so please come out and vote everyone.”

Allison said casting your ballot is important, but making an informed decision is even better. There are many different local positions on every Ohioan’s ballot, including statewide elections on Issues One and Two. “If there’s something you don’t understand, don’t just go and mark anything, but make sure that you ask questions so that you’re aware of what it is that you’re voting for,” Allsion said.

Voting advocates say you can turn to their organizations for more information. The Ohio Secretary of State also has helpful information for voters.

In-person early voting hours:

  • Nov. 1-3: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 4: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 5: 1 to 5 p.m.

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