Going door-to-door to “get out the vote” in Allentown with Promise Neighborhoods

Written by on October 26, 2020

Going door-to-door to “get out the vote” in Allentown with Promise Neighborhoods

By Tyler Pratt

October 26, 2020

Please be patient: We most likely won’t know the results of the Nov. 3 election in Pa. and across the country for several days. Find out more about how WLVR News will cover election night and after.

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

Voter registration for the presidential election topped 9 million this year in Pennsylvania, an all-time high. The pandemic hampered many of the ways groups get people registered in person. But both parties have made door-to-door rounds. WLVR’s Tyler Pratt tagged along with one neighborhood group in downtown Allentown. 

Listen to the story.

Pas Simpson is masked up and knocking on doors in Allentown’s 2nd Ward on a Sunday. 

“We’re door knocking. We’re like in your face all the time. ‘Cause the only way to understand the issues is if someone brings the issues to you,” said Simpson.

He’s with Promise Neighborhoods, which works to improve education programs in the city.

“So we’re letting them know they can vote early, they can mail in the vote, we’re letting them know they can wait til November 3rd, 2020.”

The area has experienced gentrification in recent years, but there are also many low-income Spanish-speaking residents living here. 

Allentown City Council woman Cynthia Mota joins to help interpret. They stop and talk to a man outside his apartment building.

“He says it doesn’t make any difference if he votes or not and I said that’s not right, that I have seen people with my own eyes that have won an election by one vote.”

Mota, a Democrat, says she reminds people that it’s not just about the president. There are also other races this year, like attorney general and state and congressional representatives.

On a new block, Queen Elizabeth Turay answers her door. She’s turning 21.

“Happy birthday! Thank you.”

Turay gets registered to vote on her doorstep, but says she hasn’t decided if she’ll vote in-person or by mail. But she says wants to help pick the president.

“Because what’s going on right now we do need a good president, we really do,” Turay said.

As they go through the neighborhood, Simpson says they are also encouraging residents to apply for citizenship.

“A lot of people still just have their green card. So it keeps them in fear. By not being a U.S. citizen you don’t feel part of the process,” Simpson said.

Councilmember Mota meets several families in this situation. A man named Luis comes to the door. 

Mota gives him her number and says she can help with the citizenship process. Then they get to Octavio Cordero’s house. 

“He just became a U.S. Citizen! Who gets a five! Congratulations. Eso! Laughs!”

Cordero registers to vote right there. Then, he and his wife begin to bicker in the doorway. Mota translates.

“This is very interesting – the wife is a Democrat. So right now they  have a little argument – because he’s a Republican. She says, ‘oh my God,’ right now we lost a vote, you’re voting for Trump”

Everyone shares a laugh. Mota and Simpson say that’s what these conversations are about; engaging with voters no matter who they plan to vote for. And the next step is following up and making sure people do vote. 

The last day to register for a mail-in ballot or vote early in Pennsylvania is Oct. 27. 

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