New voter ID laws was the focus of a "Voter Empowerment Rally" today — with a special appearance by Etan Thomas, author and former Washington Wizard — at the KAF Multipurpose Center in Groveton.
The Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network and NOVA Coalition sponsored the "Voter Empowerment Rally" where they educated people about the new voter ID laws in Virginia from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m..
Saturday's rally was a part of NOVA Coalition's regional campaign "NOVA Votes 2012: Educating and Encouraging the Black Vote" where they are working with more than 30 civic organizations across Northern Virginia to hold voter registration drives, phone banks and get-out-the-vote efforts this election season.
Cynthia Dinkins, President and CEO of NVUL, said its important to inform people about the importance of voting in this year's election and make sure they have what they need when they go to the polls. Dinkins said the organizations are not intereseted in encouraging people to vote for a certain candidate; they just want voters to make sure their voices are heard.
During the rally, the organization set up an area for phone banking. Volunteers offered their time Saturday to call Virginia residents to ask if they plan on voting on Nov. 6 and if they had a way to get to their local polling stations. Hayfield Secondary School student Danielle Williams offered her services in phone banking on Saturday although she's not legal voting age.
"For my future career in the political field, I thought this would be the right place to be," Williams said. "Even though I can't vote, it makes me feel like I can be a part of it and help other people get out there and vote. It takes an informed citizen and this way I can be a part of it."
Thomas, former Washington Wizard turned author, made an appearance at the rally to inform supporters and share some inspirational poetry. Thomas previously rallied with Rev. Al Sharpton in Florida and continues to show his support to prevent voter suppression.
"We don't have these voter ID laws in Maryland where I live, and I think it's important to keep people informed," Thomas said.
During the rallies in Florida, Thomas said some of the things Sharpton spoke about really stuck with him. "He said your churches aren't being bombed and people aren't throwing bricks at you," Thomas said.
Dinkins and Thomas both touched on the fact that many have fought and died in order for women and minorities to have the right to vote, and people need to make sure they take advantage of that.
The rally brought out voters of all ages and speakers provided information about community efforts during the election and why making sure their voices are heard this election season is so important.
On July 1, Virginia’s new voter ID law went into effect, eliminating the option for voters without an acceptable form of ID to sign a sworn affidavit confirming their identity in order to have their vote fully counted on Election Day.
NVUL is working with other organizations to provide carpooling for those who need a ride to the polls on Tuesday, and NOVA Coalition will continue their efforts to keep people informed about voter laws even after the presidential election is over.
NOVA Coalition is a non-partisan effort created through a grant awarded by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) to register, educate and empower voters in Northern Virginia, and to promote policies of interest to the African-American community.