According to media reports, the number of Black voters heading to the ballot box for early voting in the battleground state of Florida has declined.
Associated Industries of Florida reported that in 2012, 25 percent of early voting ballots were cast by African-Americans. Subsequently, in 2016, Black voters accounted for 16 percent of early voting ballots cast.
Will the lag in early voting numbers among African-Americans in the Sunshine State prove to be a weak spot for the Clinton campaign? Congressman Alcee Hastings from Florida’s 20th congressional district joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to talk about the sagging early voting numbers and what impact low Black voter participation may have on Election Day.
Rep. Hastings called for the Clinton camp to get more aggressive in its approach to mobilizing Black voters on and before Election Day. He told Martin a course correction has been made as it relates to the reported early voting numbers and said, “The Clinton campaign, as well as the Florida Democratic Party, have provided resources for us to move from rallying to canvassing and using the analytics that are available to know who has not voted.”
The Florida Democrat continued, “We began operationalizing in South Florida an effort to go and knock on those doors and ask the mommas to ask these children to vote and to get involved.”
With only five days left until Election Day, Rep. Hastings believes there is still enough time to drive African-American voters to the polls to create a Black voter surge. Hastings also expressed regret that it took this long for the current effort to be set in motion.
In many instances, Republican-led voter suppression efforts have attributed to circumventing traditional early voting practices of many African-Americans, which may be part of the cause for the low early voting numbers in Florida.
Hastings commended Rev. William Barber in North Carolina for leading the charge against the GOP’s blatant attempt to suppress Black voters.
“The cause of the African-American vote to be apathetic is coming off of the extraordinary phenomenon of Barack Obama being elected president in ’08 and ’12 and the kind of model they used, which produced a magnificent result … but the Obama model had Obama as the candidate and Hillary Clinton is not Obama,” he said.
Congressman Hastings reminded viewers voter suppression has been going on for 20 years and “rather than hoping that everyone would vote, these people are trying to ensure that African-American students and the elderly don’t vote.”
Imploring Black voters around the nation to get to the polls, Hastings said, “African-Americans in this country need to get busy and understand that if they would prefer to have a racist, narcissistic, egotistical, misogynistic, bigoted, bullying person as their president, then they need to understand what would happen to African-Americans if this mere con-artist became president.”
Watch Roland Martin and Rep. Hastings discuss the concern of low early voting numbers amongst African-Americans in Florida in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty