Let every vote count: Caribbean pols urge in cliffhanger elections

A person holds a sign as people rally the day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election while votes continue to be counted, outside the TCF Center in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., Nov. 4, 2020.
REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

As the outcome of the US Presidential Elections remains on a cliffhanger, as of Thursday morning, with Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden narrowing the path to victory over incumbent Republican President Donald J. Trump, Caribbean American legislators in New York have joined the Democratic Party in urging that every vote in battleground states be counted.

“We worked hard to keep Brooklyn blue this year, and I am proud to congratulate all our local Democratic winners today,” said New York State Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who heads the Brooklyn Democratic Party, in a message to constituents Wednesday night, alluding to the symbolic color of the Democratic Party. “I thank all our field operatives, staff and poll workers who make our democracy possible.

“In New York, it will take a week or more for absentee ballots to be tabulated, but it is clear that our state and our county are overwhelmingly blue,” added Bichotte, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “We must remain patient.

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. Office of Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte

“Although the wait is stressful, Brooklyn must remain engaged and united,” she continued, stating that there are several achievements to be proud of. “Over one million New Yorkers voted early, undeterred by long lines and COVID-19. And, voter turnout in Brooklyn reached an all-time high.

“We had more early votes in Kings County (Brooklyn) than in any other county in the state,” said Bichotte, who ran unopposed in the general elections on Tuesday. “I am inspired by our participation. I am hopeful that we will prevail, and in the words of our presidential nominee, Joe Biden ‘we feel good about where we are.’ We knew there was a strong possibility that we would not know the outcome of every election on election night, and that’s okay.”

Because of the pandemic, the Brooklyn Democratic Party leader noted that many people cast their votes early, whether in-person or by mail, and that those votes are still being counted in critical swing states, like Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada.

“The people must decide the outcome of this election, and that is why we must count every vote,” Bichotte urged. “When all the votes are counted, we are confident that Joe Biden will be the President of the United States.”

Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who won her re-election by a landslide on Tuesday over her Haitian American Republican challenger Constantin Jean-Pierre, told Caribbean Life Wednesday night that, “despite Donald Trump’s reckless, baseless and irresponsible claims of victory, and attempts to undermine our democratic process, ballots are still being counted.

“And I am hopeful, knowing that the American people have voted on the side of justice and fairness,” added Clarke, who represents the primarily Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, expressing profound gratitude to supporters – “Brooklynites, who volunteered for me, prayed for me and voted for me during our campaign for re-election to the US House of Representatives.

“Thank you to everyone who made this win possible.,” she said. “This victory is as much yours as it is mine. I will continue to represent your best interests in Congress and will continue to work to create a better Brooklyn and a better America for all.

“As the representative of the community that raised me, it makes me proud to carry on the legacy of the greats who came before me, like my mother, (Jamaican-born) the Hon. Una S.T. Clarke, and the iconic, Hon. Shirley Chisholm, my predecessor and the first Black woman elected to Congress,” added Clarke about the late Caribbean American Chisholm, the daughter of a Barbadian mother and Guyanese father, who was also the first Black woman to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the congresswoman said she witnessed Brooklynites coming together to vote early, register their neighbors, serve as poll workers and also provide rides to the polls.

“I’m thankful for their service,” she said. “The road to victory is a long one, and I can’t thank my fellow New Yorkers for all they have done to protect our democracy during the most critical election of our generation.”

New York City Caribbean American Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, urged the community to “take a deep breath and stay patient.

“We will fight to make sure that every vote is counted, here locally and across the nation,” said Williams Wednesday night in a message to constituents. “Trump must not steal this election.

“I’m optimistic that, in the end, enough Americans voted Trump out of office, and the final vote counts will reflect that,” he added. “And then, we begin to discuss and atone for why it was so hard to do so. It’s not over, no matter what he (Trump) declares. Stay strong, stay safe and stay hopeful.”

Veteran New York State Jamaican-born Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, told Caribbean Life Wednesday that while he was “stunned and amazed at what has transpired across our state and the country since voting started about two weeks ago, I feel a sense of relief, as the final results come in.

“And with it brings a message of assurance that America’s democracy has survived Donald Trump,” said Perry, representative for the 58th Assembly District, who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s general elections. “It is an exhilarating feeling.”

The assemblyman said he was “happily” accepting the results that show, notwithstanding all of the challenges, that America was on the path toward electing “a man who will be an American President, someone who will guide us through this pandemic, and insure that less Americans will die from this virus, and we will have the leadership that will rebuild our nation.”

“I feel again like I am living in the land of the free,” said Perry, thanking “all the voters who did their duty,” especially those who live in his district, for “re-electing me to represent the 58th Assembly District as their Member of Assembly and be their voice in Albany (New York State capital).

“I again express my pledge to serve selflessly, with honor, dignity and integrity,” he assured. “I will be available and responsive to protect and fight for the best interests of all my constituents in the 58th Assembly District.”

The cliffhanger US Presidential Elections took a new turn Wednesday as former US Vice President Biden was declared triumphant in Michigan and Wisconsin, two key battleground states that Trump won four years ago.

But, as Biden narrows the gap in attaining the requisite 270 electoral votes to the presidency, Trump’s campaign said on Wednesday that it was seeking a recount of the ballots in Wisconsin, and that it was taking legal actions to stop the count in Michigan, challenge the extension of ballot deadlines in Pennsylvania and seek the segregation of late absentee ballots in Georgia.

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