Democracy? So Why Can't We Vote For Bernie Sanders?

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By Alvaader Frazier and David Belmont

We want to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary taking place in New York on April 19, 2016. But we cannot.

New York State election laws violate our voting rights by not allowing us to do so.  We are two of nearly one 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 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 voter’s 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% of the African-American vote in that election and 65% 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 taxpaying 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’s campaign for Political Revolution. Independents are on the front lines for him. He needs to include independents in his Political Revolution. 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 Clinton machine. We salute and raise him up for giving Hillary Clinton a hard fought primary.

If you or someone you know are supporting and feeling the Bern for Senator Sanders, join forces with us. We should get together and talk together regarding how we can further Bernie’s Political Revolution!  You can contact us at (212) 962-1699.

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