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NAACP Volunteers Rally Shinnecock Nation To Get Out And Vote

Originally Posted: November 04, 2008

Kelly Carroll

High numbers of voters are being seen all over the country, including a high minority voter turnout. Photos by Kelly Carroll

Southampton - At the Southampton Cultural Center Tuesday afternoon, Lisa Votino-Tarrant, secretary of Southampton Town's Anti-Bias Task Force and wife of a Shinnecock native, sat at the voter registration table for Election District 26 and checked-off names on the compiled list in front of her.

Lisa Votino-Tarrant and her assistant, Layna Ware, monitored who from the
Shinnecock Reservation was voting at the Southampton Cultural Center.

The list, names of all the registered Shinnecock Nation voters, was Votino-Tarrant's way of knowing who has and who hasn't voted from the reservation. Acting as a volunteer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Votino-Tarrant's election day job was to shuttle Shinnecock voters to the cultural center to fulfill their democratic duties, to great success. While residents of the Shinnecock Reservation are descendants of the indigenous Shinnecock tribe, interracial marriages have broadened their demographic make-up.

According to Votino-Tarrant, and Layna Ware, whose grandfather, Lucius Ware, is the president of the eastern Long Island branch of the NAACP, Shinnecock Nation voters were coming out in large numbers for the 2008 general election. The highest voter turnout on the Shinnecock Reservation, Votino-Tarrat said Wednesday morning, was last November at 36 percent. Yesterday, approximately 70 percent casted their vote in-person and about 10 percent had sent in absentee ballots.

"Everyone in politics, take note - there is a new wave of participation," asserted Votino-Tarrant. "Members of the Shinnecock Nation, who have been mostly written-off in previous elections, will have their voices be heard."

"Everyone in politics, take note - there is a new wave of participation," asserted Votino-Tarrant. "Members of the Shinnecock Nation, who have been mostly written-off in previous elections, will have their voices be heard."

Long lines at the cultural center on Tuesday were similar to all East End villages.

In recent years, the minority vote has been a small one, yet that is
destined to change with this election.

This heavy minority voter turnout has been seen all over the country today as polls opened in the early morning to long lines. Exit polls are already indicating that this election day, while voting numbers on the whole will be historically high, minority numbers will follow suit. In one of the most unprecedented elections this country has ever seen, which ultimately will culminate in the election of either the first African-American president or the first female Vice-President, the American populous is certainly roused to get out and vote.

Data collected from the United States Census Bureau on minority voting is very dim however. In the time of the 2006 general election, 57.4 percent of the black population in America was registered to vote, yet only 38.6 percent actually did; 32 percent of the Hispanic population was registered to vote in that same election, while only 19.3 percent actually did.

Back in 2004, a total of 292,286 Suffolk County voters filled out their ballots for the Republican ticket of George W. Bush and his Vice-President Dick Cheney, while 307,011 voted for Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards. According to online political network LIPolitics.com, at least 16,000 of those Republican supporters were minority voters, while more than 23,000 minorities voted for the Democrats.

Although exit polls and more concrete numbers have not yet been released for this year's presidential election, it is clear from simply being at the polls around the East End that those numbers are destined to be higher.

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