Engage Miami holds get-out-the-vote event in Little Haiti

Engage Miami officials say sometimes it takes a party to get people to vote.

“Sometimes elections have a bad rep as being boring,” said Rebecca Pelham, executive director of the group, which focuses on getting young people to vote. “We wanted to create something celebratory.”

The party, held in the courtyard of the Little Haiti Cultural Complex on Oct. 27, included food from Naomi’s Garden restaurant, a comedy performance from Villain Theater, music by DJ Hottpants, a performance by King Femm and other activities.

“It’s a really beautiful community and some places get more attention than others, so we wanted to spotlight this beautiful community right in the heart of our city,” she said.

People of all ages attended the festivities while volunteers handed out voting information and invited people to check out the various activities. The day coincided with a regular market day at the complex which helped draw in participants.

Other organizations involved included Pridelines, Emerge Miami, The Love Vote, the CLEO Institute and the Haitian Lawyers Association.

“I think those who participate will learn something with a low stress environment,” said Alexandra Audate, who serves on the executive board of the Haitian Lawyers Association. “We’re just providing knowledge without pushing anything.”

A representative from her group got on stage and informed the crowd on how amendment voting works and gave special attention to Amendments 4 and 5. If voted “yes,” Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to convicted felons after they’ve completed their sentence and parole while Amendment 5 would require 66 percent of Florida voters to approve an increase in current or new tax law.

A spokesperson from the CLEO Institute also spoke to those gathered about Amendment 9 and climate change.

“Amendment 9 is about offshore drilling,” she said. “If it passes, no offshore drilling can be done off of our coast. If we want to maintain a stable climate, it’s important that we move away from fossil fuels.”

Though the day was generally smooth, at one point a woman repeated yelled out her support for Andrew Gillum before being escorted away from the stage where comedians and DJs were performing. It ended with a walk to the Lemon City library early voting site.

“I think whoever came by today has a lot to share with friends and, hopefully yes, it was impactful,” said Alexandra Lebon, who spoke on behalf of The Love Vote. “I think it should happen again. We need more things like this to get people involved.”

Lebon can’t vote. She moved from Haiti in the 2000’s, but was granted temporary protected status, or TPS, after the earthquake that hit the country in 2010. In her speech, she encouraged people to vote in honor of those not eligible to do so.

The block party may return for future election years.

“I think we would love to continue to do these celebrations,” said Pelham. “I think it’s going to give the community a chance to connect and celebrate everyone else involved in this process and vote.”