House passes bill bolstering landmark voting law
House Democrats passed legislation Tuesday that would strengthen a landmark civil rights-era voting law weakened by the Supreme Court over the past decade. (Aug. 24)
RANDOLPH — Yvonne Watson, a happily retired Boston Public Schools teacher, just wanted to get a sense of what people thought about Randolph.
Working within education for 37 years, 26 of those years as a teacher, she has done her fair share of listening.
Pondering her future in the town she loves she felt that need to do something.
“There was a point where I had considered moving away from Randolph, because things just seemed politically a little tense. So I was curious about how other people were feeling about Randolph and the things that concerned them and things that they appreciated about Randolph,” Watson said.
Taking inspiration from the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), which trains citizens to become community organizers, Watson launched United Randolph, a grassroots organization focused on advocating for the concerns of Randolph residents.
Starting in February 2021, Watson began hosting listening sessions with Randolph residents to get a sense of their sentiments about Randolph.
Complaints about lack of youth recreational opportunities outside of sports, the condition of roads, traffic, transportation and the cleanliness of the town were just some of the issues brought before Watson and the steering committee she developed within United Randolph.
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Being trained in how to organize by GBIO and how to deal with power, she and her team turned their attention to the polls for answers to the problems of the town.
“We saw how many people came out to vote in the national election, and we realized that people are willing to show up, but we didn’t at the time make the connection between the issues of the town and the importance of voting and local elections,” said Heather Ho, one of the members of United Randolph’s steering committee.
There were 4,582 ballots counted in the Randolph town election in 2019, compared to 17,565 ballots counted in the 2020 Presidential election
The 2020 Census measured Randolph’s population as 34,984 people, meaning less than 15 percent of the population voted in the 2019 town election.
After analyzing the data, the group shifted their attention to both listening to the reasons why Randolph residents don’t vote in local elections and developing the best way to encourage voting.
“I think a lot of them were cynical,” said Ho on the responses residents gave to not voting.
“There wasn’t information readily available about the candidates and what they stood for, but also the information wasn’t accessible. We have a large minority population and a good amount of Randolph is foreign born. Vital documents should be translated into Spanish, Haitian Creole and Vietnamese etc.,” added Ho.
According to a 2019 Census estimate only 32 percent of Randolph’s population is white alone, with Blacks or African-Americans making up 44 percent of the population.
A proposed order came before the town council earlier this year to ensure that vital documents are translated into all languages spoken by at least five percent of households in Randolph, according to District 2 Councilor Jesse Gordon.
The order failed but Gordon plans to bring it back before the council in 2022.
United Randolph launched a door knocking campaign in August encouraging residents to vote as well as conducted phone banking to encourage voting.
On September 25, they will be hosting a weekend of action door knocking campaign where they will work with other local community organizations to encourage voting in the upcoming election.
Enterprise staff writer Darvence Chery can be reached at email@example.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.
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