Independents Deserve the Right to Vote in Primary
by Alvaader Frazier & David Belmont
Apr 06, 2016 | 16665 views | 0 0 comments | 790 790 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We want to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary taking place in New York on April 19, but we cannot.

New York State election laws violate our voting rights by not allowing us to do so. We are two of nearly 1 million Independent New York City voters and taxpayers who will be denied voting rights in this critical stage of the national election process. Let us introduce ourselves.

My name is Alvaader Frazier, a lifelong African-American community organizer and independent political leader living here in New York City. I was active in the civil rights movement in my youth.

I worked in the history-making 1988 Independent Presidential Fair Elections Campaign of Dr. Lenora B. Fulani. I worked hard in 2003 to attempt to pass nonpartisan elections for the City of New York.

Since those times, voting rights have seen system-wide setbacks, like the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This opened the door again for suppression of voters' rights unseen in the USA since the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in nearly every state.

New York’s continued use of closed primaries in every election is another leading form of voter suppression.

My name is David Belmont, a second-generation Jewish-American progressive activist. My father was an activist and union organizer alongside Paul Robeson and others in the 1950s. I was a marcher in the peace movement of the 1960s, and joined with Alvaader and others in the 1980s in fighting for the rights of independent voters.

In 2005, I was a member of a multi-racial, left/right coalition that supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg. We won 47 percent of the African-American vote in that election and 65 percent of the Independent vote.

Bernie Sanders’ call for addressing the widening economic inequality in our country resonates with me. However, I also cannot vote for Sanders in the primary. My voice, along with 2.5 million other Independents, will not be heard in New York State’s closed presidential primary. We are locked out.

Senator Sanders is leading a campaign for a political revolution. Citizen voters should not have to join a political party to vote, and tax-paying citizen voters should not have to pay for elections that we cannot vote in.

We join every New Yorker (Democrats and otherwise) supporting Senator Sanders’ campaign, and Independents are on the front lines for him. Tell the leaders of the parties here in New York to let us vote, too.

Senator Sanders, Independent turned Democrat, has the courage of his convictions to challenge the almighty Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton machine. We salute him up for giving Clinton a hard-fought primary.

Alvaader Frazier and David Belmont are residents of Manhattan.
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