AUSTIN, Texas - Today was the last day to register to vote in the state of Texas, and local organizations are working to make sure the African-American vote is counted in upcoming elections.
100 Black Men of America is a national mentoring organization, with an Austin chapter that started in 2006. Their pillars are to mentor young men in the community, programming in the community to educate and encourage health and wealth.
Karl Spencer, the president of the Austin organization says, "we all know COVID has been a major distraction and all the latest events that have taken place with Black Lives Matter movement our organization decided to pivot to a different direction to make sure we protest in a strategic way."
They already have registered voluntary deputy registrars (VDRs) within the chapter, so last week they were handing out mail-in voter registration forms. Their goal for the past few months is to get more people to vote in the primary and presidential election.
"I have five boys, for me being a father and having to explain to my six-year-old all that has taken place was emotional for me. The last election a lot of people didn't go out and vote that was the end result of President Trump being in office," Spencer said. "We are a bi-partisan organization but we also talk about voting and when we found out a lot of people didn't vote in the last election process the national organization focused on making sure we get people out there to vote and to also fill out the census forms. A lot of people have died for our right so for black men in the community to make people are supporting people to get out there and vote."
He says for folks to pay attention to who's running for District Attorney and the Texas U.S. Senate, big decision-makers and key players.
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Bruce Elfant with the Travis County voter registrar's office says they haven't registered many voters in the past three months because volunteer deputy registrars haven't been able to get out.
He says they've received a few thousand applications in the mail within the last week, and on Monday registered several hundred people. Typically voter registration for a runoff election in the middle of summer is minimal but because of the virus, it appears they're making up for the last three months, so it's hard to compare to recent years.
Another thing Karl Spencer says his organization has been working on is getting more people to become poll workers since most are part of the more COVID-vulnerable population.
"We have more than 42 million people unemployed but we have a voice and to never give up, I pray everyone is healthy during this time. 100 Black Men of Austin, we are doing our best to keep the community uplifted," Spencer says.
To learn more, visit the Austin chapter's website.