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Baltimore Church & Prominent National Figures Encourage Residents To Vote

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Prominent national figures join a massive push to help local communities make their voices heard on Election Day.

Kai Jackson has more on how they’re hoping to accomplish that goal.

The discussion moved in many directions, yet one thing most agreed on is, people should vote and hold their representatives accountable.

The Empowerment Temple in Northwest Baltimore is the backdrop for a discussion about the upcoming presidential election and voter registration.

“It’s a state of emergency for our community,” Rev. Jamal Bryant, the pastor of the church, said.

Rev. Bryant is flanked by a number of activists, including civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson.

“Our problem today, in part, is motivating people who feel they aren’t a part of the process,” Jackson said.

Bryant organized an event called the Code Red Alert. He says the election is a few months away but feels there’s no serious effort to rally voters. He worries many people of color either won’t get registered or won’t vote.

“On Saturday, we’re going all over the City of Baltimore and D.C. and surrounding areas to begin voter registration,” Bryant said.

While there’s a great push for voter registration day, some tell WJZ that each person’s vote has to count beyond Election Day.

“After you vote, you have to keep staying in there because your vote doesn’t stop there,” Tomar Jackson of Philadelphia said.

There was acknowledged support by many for President Barack Obama at the event.

But some participants say whether a person votes for President Obama or Mitt Romney, that support shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“We really have to talk to our neighbor and make sure they’re registered to vote. And try to explain to them the importance of voting,” Evangeline Fuller of East Baltimore said.

Participants at the Empowerment Temple say that in recent years, a great deal of attention has been focused on the middle class. They worry that the poor and the under-counted have been lost in the shuffle.

According to Census data, in the 2008 election, 66 percent of non-Hispanic Whites voted, 65 percent of African-Americans voted while 49 percent of Hispanics and Asians voted.

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