Bay Ridge

Arab-American leaders urge voters to get to the polls

November 4, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Linda Sarsour (at microphone), executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, is leading a get-out-the-vote drive in southwest Brooklyn. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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A leading Arab-American organization in the city conducted a last-minute drive to get voters of Middle Eastern heritage to the polls on Election Day.

The Arab-American Association of New York, a citywide group based in Bay Ridge, urged registered voters to get to their polling places to show that the Middle Eastern community is eager to see movement on issues such as immigration reform, reforming the New York Police Department, securing better education and ensuring better health care.

Thousands of Brooklyn residents opened their inboxes Tuesday morning to find an email from Linda Sarsour, the association’s executive director, offering a friendly reminder to vote. “Good morning! Rise and shine,” the greeting began.

“We have been working hard to register voters across the community, but that’s only part of the process — the most important part is actually getting out to vote,” Sarsour reminded her readers.

The email also contained helpful links to websites where residents could find their polling sites and learn more about the candidates running in their districts.

Sarsour tried to nudge voters into the voting booth by employing a do-it-for-the-kids strategy. “Our youth have been phone banking and knocking on doors for weeks. Let us show them that their work was not in vain,” she wrote.

In her email, Sarsour also wrote that the association planned to spend Election Day monitoring polling sites for any signs of disenfranchisement of voters. She urged residents to report any incidents of “voters being turned away, asked for identification, lack of translation, or disrespectful treatment at any polling site.” The email contained the association’s phone number, 718-745-3523.

The association’s get-out-the-vote drive is the latest evidence of the growing clout of Brooklyn Middle Eastern population. Brooklyn has the largest number of Arab-Americans of any of the five boroughs, according to the association.

The association, a non-profit organization, is headquartered at 7111 Fifth Ave. and offers social services such as assistance with immigration issues, bi-lingual case management, help accessing affordable health care, support for victims of domestic violence, translations, youth programs and adult education. The group also sponsors community events, such as the Bay Ridge Arab American Bazaar, which takes place in Shore Road Park each summer.


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