Big Voter Registration in the Polish-American Community

“Registered Polish-American voters will constitute a strong political group, thanks to which our voice will be heard,” says Slawomir Platta, the organizer of the voter registration campaign. (Photo by Marcin Żurawicz/Art Pix via Nowy Dziennik)

On Feb. 27, a big voter registration drive was launched in the Polish-American community in New York’s [Senate] District 15. The engine behind this social campaign is a Polish-American lawyer, Slawomir Platta, who hopes that the initiative will spread into other Polish-American communities in New York and beyond.

The launch took place in Maspeth, where a group of activists put up posters encouraging people to vote. “Register to Vote. Empower the Polish American Community!” says a slogan on the poster, which also provides a state website address: www.vote.nyc.ny.us, where one can register.

This is the first step. For the next couple of months, a dozen people hired for this purpose will be out on Queens streets from 5 to 8 p.m. each day. In neighborhoods from Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Glendale, Ozone Park to Rockaway Beach and others belonging to District 15 they will encourage Polish Americans to register to vote and will explain how to do it. The campaign will also use YouTube videos explaining the voting process, how to properly fill out the ballot in order for the vote to count and who to ask for help in case of questions. “We can’t feel ashamed if we lack knowledge. Unfortunately, in many cases people don’t vote because they are not sure how and where,” says Platta.

(Via Nowy Dziennik)

In the next four months, through his campaign, the lawyer strives to register from 5,000 to 10,000 Polish Americans. “It is a doable goal, although it requires a lot of work,” he says adding that there are more than 30,000 Polish Americans in District 15, however a great number of them are not registered to vote despite being naturalized citizens.

“Similar campaigns, but on a smaller scale, have already been organized in the Polish community in the past. This one is unique because, for the first time, the voter registration is so methodically organized. We won’t only be seen in front of churches. We use the most current statistics and will reach out to every Polish American living in this district,” says Platta.

In this way he wants to create a strong and numerous group of voters with roots in the Polish community that will, from now on, participate in every election, that will “understand the election process and will know its value as voters.”

“People complain that the Polish Americans’ voice is not heard. It is not heard, because even though we constitute a sizable group, we haven’t been organized well enough so far. When a number of Polish Americans shows up at the polls, American politicians will want to hear our voice and we will be able to have representatives from our community elected,” Platta said, explaining the rationale behind his voter registration drive.

Platta, who is sponsoring the campaign together with a group of Polish-American business owners, is encouraging other business owners and Polish-American organizations to participate in this public initiative. “We want as many people as possible to join us. In this way the voter registration drive will have a chance to spread throughout New York, New Jersey and other areas where Polish people live,” Platta says.

He believes that he will able to mobilize the Polish community to register and vote just as he was able to do before last year’s Pulaski Day Parade, which he headed as the grand marshal. “The parade was a great success. And such will be our voter registration drive,” says Platta, who as the grand marshal also organized the first Pulaski Day Parade concert at Carnegie Hall and a Polish concert in Central Park.

Organizations and individuals interested in joining the voter registration campaign are encouraged to get in touch with Slawomir Platta at swp@plattalaw.com, tel. (646) 932-6656, or call his law office at (212) 514-5100.

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