Condola Rashad on social media, Gen Z and the importance of voting in Black community

After being alarmed that voting polls were scheduled to close over the course of the following weeks, a fire was lit in Rashad's spirit to push for everyone’s birthright to vote as a citizen

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A few weeks after connecting with Condola ‘Dola’ Rashad for our initial conversation for HelloBeautiful, she launched her POWER the POLLS challenge in an effort to increase the number of poll workers for the forthcoming election in just under 60 days. The first-of-its-kind initiative was curated as part of the solution for voter suppression by ensuring safety, fairness, and addressing the need for low-risk and diverse poll workers, who can staff in-person voting locations during early voting and on Election Day.

Read More: theGrio hosting a ‘Vote for Your Life’ town hall featuring John Legend, Jamie Foxx and more

After being alarmed that voting polls would have begun to close over the course of the following weeks, a fire was lit in Rashad’s spirit to push for everyone’s birthright to vote as a citizen. With the COVID-19 coming and going in waves, older adults or those with health conditions may not be in the ideal situation to work the polls, thus Rashad recruited the youth to sign up for poll working. What’s the catch? None – and it’s paid!

theGrio had a chance to connect with the Billions actress about POWER the POLLS, creating call-to-action items to uplift our voices, engaging Generation Z voters on Nov. 3 and the importance of the Black female vote. Check out the conversation below:

Tell me about POWER the POLLS. What inspired it and what is the impact you hope it’ll make? 

Rashad: One of the main reasons for the poll worker shortage is because most poll workers in the past have been over the age of 60, which puts them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Power the Polls is an initiative to recruit as many lower-risk poll workers as possible to ensure a safe and fair election process for all voters. The most important message for everyone at this time is vote, vote, vote! In order to support that message, there are other angles that must be secured. We have to ensure as many polling places remain open during early voting and on election day, and that election technology is functioning properly and efficiently. In order to ensure these essentials, we need as many poll workers as possible.

How have you seen Black and brown communities be directly impacted by voter suppression in your city? 

Rashad: Only four years ago, during the 2016 primary election, over 100,000 people found out that they had been improperly removed from the rolls and were unable to vote, so this cannot come as a shock. We can’t afford to wait until it happens. Instead, we have to do everything in our power to prevent it, including triple checking your voter registration status, voting early if you can, spreading the word and encouraging others to do the same, and, of course, signing up to be a poll worker if you’re physically able to to do so. 

When you had your discussion with an executive from Voter Protection, what points were important for you to touch upon? How should we also go about making our voices heard by Voter Protection, elected officials and other people in power? 

Rashad: My main intention for speaking with this executive was to gain more knowledge about working the polls, so that was what we focused on. We spoke about the fact that not everyone is completely aware of the connection between lower turnout and higher opportunity for voter suppression. We are living in a society where individuals are not fully aware of the power they possess. This is where Power the Polls hopes to offer the education that is necessary to change that. 

What is the importance of getting our people to the polls for early voting and on Election Day?

CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund 15th Anniversary Event
Condola Rashad attends the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund 15th Anniversary Event at Brooklyn Navy Yard on November 5, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Rashad: It is of utmost importance that every single one of us show up and engage this democracy. We know the history of the disenfranchisement of Black and brown people in this country. We will only see a reality where the basic human rights of all people are upheld and respected in this society when we all show up with clarity and fervor to claim that reality. 

Now with our younger generation, we see them going really hard this election season. How does POWER the POLLS plan on engaging Generation Z?  

Rashad: One of the more positive aspects of social media is the level of awareness that can be raised in a very short amount of time. It’s all about how it’s put to use. By utilizing their Twitter and Instagram handles, specifically on National Poll Worker Recruitment Day which was September 1, Power the Polls has reported over 400k signups and the number is rising!

Read More: Early vote shows signs of Black voters’ shift to mail voting

What do you say to those who may not believe that the Black vote matters as much as it truly does?  

Rashad: I would say I don’t judge them, and I understand there has been overwhelming circumstances that have led to this conclusion. For that reason, I offer compassion. However, I’d also like to offer that the dismantling of systemic oppression and white supremacy in this country is dependent on our effort and willingness to empower ourselves and each other to move into full alignment with our value. There would be no need to try and suppress the voices of Black and brown people if our voices weren’t as powerful as they are. To increase the power of the collective, we have to free ourselves and each other   from false narratives of inutility, our future depends on it. 

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