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One of the organizations I belong to had its Annual Brunch today. The Independent Women’s Organization is a Democratic women’s organization that has its roots back to 1939. I joined when it revived after Hurricane Katrina and recently rejoined the board.

For our event, we had as keynote speaker, Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge. She gave a powerful talk that started with a recitation of the brilliant poem, “And the Women Gathered” by Gloria Wade-Gayles. From there, her speech covered everything from the biblical queen, Esther, to the fictional (but incredibly powerful) Dora Milaje, and served as a call to action for women and Democrats.

I was honored to give the closing remarks for the afternoon’s program.

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Photo Credit – Lynda Woolard

Thank you, Congresswoman Fudge.

Building on what she said, I will speak briefly on how we can best use our power heading into November.

Democracy itself is on the ballot. The 2020 census is just around the corner. Our state representatives are the ones who get to redraw the boundaries of their voting districts. And, when we get the chance, we need make sure we vote blue!

There is some good election news. The Louisiana Democratic party reports a Democrat running for Congress in each district. In fact, nearly 300 more Democrats qualified for the ballot than Republicans in the upcoming elections.

We must support Democrats running for office in November. They need our money, our making phone calls, our knocking on doors and mobilizing our friends and colleagues to get to the polls and vote.

Many of y’all are familiar with the phrase, “Vote early, vote often.” Contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t mean getting the dead to vote. It means making voting a habit.

If we make it a habit to vote, we are much less likely to skip a trip to the polls in the future.

And all habits need feeding. We must make sure we re-register to vote every time we move and check our registration ahead of election season. We must take advantage of early voting hours if we think we’ll be busy or out of town on election day. Heck, we must build standing in line on election day into our lives.

Today’s voting population includes almost equal parts millennials and baby boomers. The big difference is in how many of them voted – in 2016, only 19 percent of those ages 18-29 cast their ballots in the presidential election. In contrast, 49 percent of 45-64-year-olds voted in 2016.

And we are living with the results of that election.

What can we do?

First off, check your voting status. If you have a smart phone, put the GeauxVote Mobile App on your home screen. When you meet your friends for coffee and conversation, have them check their voting status and find out if they know who is running to represent them.

Help them get registered to vote if they aren’t. Become voter buddies – look them in the eye to get a promise that they will vote. Give them the same pledge in return.

Make sure folks with mobility and transportation issues have a way to get to the polls. Check on the homebound in your neighborhood or volunteer for a few hours driving folks to their polling place.

At the heart, elections are decided by who shows up at the polls.

Let’s make sure that it is us.

Thank you!

Geaux Vote!