November 6, 2018 at 10:15 am PST | by Karen Ocamb
HRC’s Griffin: LGBTQ is a ‘powerful voting bloc’

HRC President Chad Griffin and former basketball star Jason Collins campaign with out bisexual candidate Katie Hill (Photo courtesy HRC)

This is it. LGBT people who want to put a check on President Trump, who want to save coverage for pre-existing conditions, who want civility back in everyday discourse must turn out to vote today.

Angelinos who still don’t know your polling place or need other electoral information, check out the County Clerk’s site at LAVote.net https://www.lavote.net/home/voting-elections/current-elections/find-my-election-information If you requested a Vote By Mail ballot—you can still mail it today. But if you want to be assured your vote will be counted today, you can drop you VBM ballot in a secure box at 150 locations, https://www.lavote.net/home/voting-elections/voting-options/vote-by-mail/vbm-ballot-drop-off including number of public libraries around the county—such as the West Hollywood Public Library. If you still need guidance or information about the candidates, check out the special Los Angeles Blade page https://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/11/02/the-little-la-election-helper-guides-resources-profiles/ with links to candidate profiles and resources for more information.

Because of California’s penchant to Vote By Mail, election results may not be certified for at least a week after Election Day. But, says Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, LGBT people and pro-equality allies have turned out en masse to try change the dark direction the country is going in under Trump.

“I’m filled with nervous optimism,” Griffin told the Los Angeles Blade as he headed to LAX Monday night after a day of campaigning with OC Democratic candidates Katie Hill and Harley Rouda, seeking to overturn anti-gat Reps Pete Knight and Dana Rohrabacher, respectively. “In 2016, there was too much confidence so I think nervous optimism is a good place for us all be until the last poll closes. Our teams across the country—more than 150 staff and thousands of volunteers—are focused on knocking on every door, making every phone call we can until that last poll closes here on the West Coast.”

Griffin says the enthusiasm has been high across the country. “If you look at the grassroots energy—certainly if you look at these key races, there’s money on both sides. But what you uniquely see with these pro-equality candidates—whether it’s here in California or I was in Nevada a few hours ago with the incredible slate of candidates there and I was in Michigan last night—the grassroots energy on our side, LGBTQ people and our allies, not just showing up and registering to vote, not just turning out for the GOTV rallies, but signing up in record numbers for volunteer shifts, taking clip boards and packets and knocking on doors all across this country—and that’s why I’m filled with optimism.”

But Griffin cautions against complacency if pundits on the East Coast start projecting that Blue Wave Democratic victory, prompting voters on the West Coast to determine their vote won’t matter.

“Virtually every race in this country—from California to New York and everywhere in between—is critical to us in terms of our pro-equality opportunities, whether it’s governors races or congressional races or having a more pro-equality House and Senate—virtually every single one of those races is razor thin,” says Griffin. “A point up, a point down, tied. And that’s why no one should get overly optimistic and see trends from the East Coast and think, ‘looks like things are going well. I don’t have to vote.’ That could be a decision you regret for the rest of your life.”

Griffin joins the chorus of LGBT politicos saying: “This is the most important election of our lives and every single person who has not already voted early must make a plan and vote in this election.”

Too many people had regrets after 2016,” Griffin notes. “Certainly those who thought their vote didn’t matter and therefore didn’t vote—we have seen the consequences of that if you looked what happened in the next two years. This is our moment in history. And every single one of us—years down the road—we will all be asked the question: where were you then? It is so critical that every single person, LGBTQ people and our allies, have an answer to that question.”

HRC President Chad Griffin and HRC volunteers campaign for Harley Rouda (Photo courtesy HRC)

Additionally, LGBT turnout boosts the LGBT community’s real and perceived power.

“In order to have political power and build political power, we have to be counted,” says Griffin. “That’s why we’ve invested so much in raising the visibility but most importantly, organizing this voting bloc in key districts and key states all across the country. [Pollsters] did not ask the LGBTQ question in the special elections. But in 2016, exit polling included LGBTQ data and we were 5% of the electorate. That’s nearly 7 million people. That means 5% of the electorate walked out of a polling station in a swing state and told a stranger they were LGBTQ.

“Our number is much higher than that,” Griffin continues. “But if you just take those numbers—that means there are 10 million eligible LGBTQ voters in this country today. We know that millennials and first time voters, as high as 15-25%, identify as LGBTQ. This is a powerful voting bloc and the politicians who ignore it do so at their own peril. And increasingly what we are seeing is politicians all across this country on the pro-equality side, running on our issues—championing LGBTQ issues. Those who are running for Congress are openly prioritizing the Equality Act and they’re fighting for the LGBTQ vote. That is something that is fairly new in this country and I think it’s because more and more people are visible and we prioritized this voting bloc and our allies, the equality voter.”

Because the LGBT voter demographic is so critical, Griffin sent letters to numerous pollsters and consortiums conducting exit polling for news organizations “and requested that they be inclusive of LGBTQ people. Most of the consortiums that do that I did hear back from that this year, they are including LGBTQ people in exist polling,” Griffin says.

“I hope we will see an increased focus on that voting bloc because we are a massive voting bloc,” says Griffin. “We can determine the outcome of elections and the LGBTQ voting bloc in 2016 turned out in higher margins that many other voting blocs and it increased our support for the pro-equality candidate over Trump from election to election. So this is a powerful voting bloc and politicians who ignore it or attack LGBTQ people – I really believe this is the election that it will be seen across the country that you do so at your own peril.”

Follow HRC throughout Election Night on Twitter at @HRC

© Copyright Los Angeles Blade, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved.