Caribbean American Voters Could Help Sway Georgia Senate Runoffs

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The US's first Black Caribbean American Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris, speaks at a rally in support of Democratic US Senate candidates, Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, at Garden City Stadium in Savannah, Georgia on January 3, 2021. - The two candidates are competing in a runoff election on January 5th that will decide which party controls the United States Senate. (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, ATLANTA, GA, Mon. Jan. 4, 2021: Much like they did for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in November, naturalized Caribbean immigrant voters are expected to help sway the Georgia senate runoffs in favor of Democrats.

The U.S. Senate runoff, that concludes tomorrow, pits Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler against respective Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. The results will determine which party controls the US Senate and, by extension, shape how much the Biden administration is able to deliver on his promises, especially to immigrant voters.

Given that President-elect Biden won the state of Georgia by about 12,000 votes, it will not take a huge margin to impact the outcome of the two Senate runoff races.

Between 2000 and 2019, Georgia’s electorate grew by about 1.9 million voters, with Black voters accounting for nearly half of this increase.

The exact number of registered Caribbean-American voters, whether born in the U.S. or elsewhere, is unclear. However, as of 2019, about 70,000 of the state’s eligible voters were born in the Caribbean, with Jamaica accounting for the highest number followed by Haiti. An estimated 53,603 are Jamaicans while about 15,000 are Haitians. DeKalb and Fulton counties have the largest Jamaican population while Haitians are largely in Clayton county.  In Gwinnett County, some 15 percent of all naturalized voters are from the Caribbean.

Jamaican organizations like The Atlanta Jamaican Association (AJA) have been spreading the voting message to Jamaicans for tomorrow’s election while Saurel Quettan, president of the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, told the Haitian Times that he has teamed up with a national network of Haitian American leaders called the Haitian American Voter Empowerment (HAVE) Coalition, and is currently coordinating efforts to turn out voters for the January 5th election.

A record three million early votes have so far been cast in the election. According to Georgia Votes, which is analyzing data from the secretary of state’s office, 3,001,017 voters had cast ballots in the runoff election following the last day of the three-week advance in person voting period. Of those votes, 928,069 are absentee by mail and 2,072,948 are from in-person early voting. And 115,389 voters who’ve cast ballots early for the runoff did not vote at all in the general.

Perdue’s lead over Ossoff in the general election was 88,098 votes, and Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel received nearly the exact same number of votes as the number of new voters participating in the runoff. Because these Senate races are so tight, how these votes split could make all the difference and that is where Caribbean immigrant votes will matter.