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Rep. Pressley Joins More Than 30% Of Mass. Voters Who Cast Early Ballots, Encourages Others To Vote

By: Quincy Walters & Sharon Brody

Nine-year-old Zion Rodriguez went to accompany his nana to vote in Roxbury on Saturday. And he was not prepared to bump into Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley who was also out voting at the Shelburne Community Center.

"It felt good to meet her," Rodriguez said, wearing a Black Lives Matter face covering, who earlier asked Pressley to look into school start times being so early.

It was a moment of levity, less than 10 days away from an honestly consequential presidential election.

"We have to win," Pressley said. "I'm not letting up right now, in making sure that we're turning out this vote — that we keep the pressure up. And after [the election] our work really begins. Because it's still going to be on us to organize, to mobilize to do the work to ensure that all those things we care about are legislated and that they happen."

She said a Biden-Harris ticket, to her, has "more compassion for the American people" and she thinks that would-be administration will handle the coronavirus pandemic better.  After casting her vote, Pressley said she was encouraged by numerous national polls showing that Trump will lose to Joe Biden, but it's no time for complacency.

"We need to vote like our lives and our very democracy and our livelihoods depend on it, because they do," she said. "What I need is for people to not get comfortable."

In the Shelburne Community Center's parking lot was a mobile jumbotron that read "Black Votes Matter" with an accompanying jingle. Each year, there is a push to get Black voters to the polls amid reiterated instances of systemic voter suppression.

But Alex Psilakis, with the nonprofit MassVOTE, told WBUR that voter turnout this election has been promising. More than 30% of registered voters in Massachusetts have cast their votes for the presidential election.

"The numbers are really, really encouraging now," Psilakis said. "And we're expecting that by November 3, once the election wraps up, we'll see arguably the highest turnout ever in Massachusetts."

Psilakis, however, does note that there are disparities when it comes to race and class and access to voting, whether that be voting early, by mail or voting on election day. And those inequities, Psilakis said, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. There are people who don't speak English as a primary language, transportation challenges, etc.

"It's easier for suburban communities to vote by mail," he said. "If you're a renter and you move around a bit more frequently, it might be more difficult to vote by mail. And if you live in a city, if you don't have access to a car, it could be a little bit more difficult to vote early or on election day."

Psilakis said areas with the highest voter turnout are suburban, white, and high income. And voter Debra Groomes said that's why it was important for her Black nine-year-old grandson, Zion Rodriguez, to witness her cast her ballot.

"You are our future and you can make a change," she told him. "And that's why nana brought you, so you can exactly see what goes on."

This story originally appeared on WBUR. Check it out here!


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