African American leaders urge community to vote

There’s only one month left until election day. Are you registered to vote? African American community leaders in Carbondale want you to register if you haven’t yet in hopes of helping make a positive change in the community. 

You won’t often find Dr. M. Stalls without a voter registration form ready. Before the mail-in deadline on Oct.11, she’s helping as many people in the community as she can complete their voter registration.

"Not enough. I would say I have registered less than 25," Stalls said. But, she says that’s been a good thing. So far this year, many of the people she’s met with are already registered to vote. She says her visit just helps remind them then to vote in the election.

She says, as often as she can, she tries to get out in to the community, walking through every neighborhood just to make sure people here are registered to vote. So that, come Nov. 8, they can make real change in the Carbondale community.

Stalls met with NAACP Carbondale and other community leaders Friday to talk about issues the African American community here faces. NAACP Carbondale President Ed Dorsey says, along with higher unemployment levels for African Americans, people here also have less access to fresh produce and medical care. Spirit of Attucks President Carlton Smith agrees, saying it’s rare for schools and city leadership roles to be diverse and that can negatively impact students growing up.

But, with the black community making up 25 percent of Carbondale’s population, Smith and Dorsey agree the way you vote in November has the potential to make positive changes to these community issues by electing leaders who want to improve things.

"We can change our conditions and further our future and our existence by altering those factors and we intend to do so," Smith said.

"Somebody is going to be elected. And, if you want someone who is going to treat your child and all children as they should be treated, that’s the way to impact the process," Stalls said.  She says even one vote can make a big difference in the leaders we elect this November, and people have both the right and responsibility to make sure they cast a ballot.

Voter registrars will be out this weekend along with some members of Carbondale’s NAACP chapter going door to door, helping get you registered to vote for the final few days of mail-in registration.

To register via mail in Illinois, you must mail in your registration by Oct. 11. You can register online through Oct. 23, but need to have an Illinois driver’s license or state-issued identification card to do so. You can register up to and on election day in the state in person at your county’s courthouse with two forms of identification and proof of address.

In Kentucky and Tennessee, you have until Oct. 11 to have your form postmarked. To vote In Missouri, you’ve got an extra day –that deadline is Oct. 12.

Kentucky launched online registration just this year. Your form must be submitted for that online by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11.

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