MUSLIMS TO THE POLLS
- EFFORT AIMS TO PUSH MUSLIMS TO THE POLLS
National Muslim civic leaders announced a new push yesterday to get
the country's estimated 2.2 million registered Muslim voters to the
polls, unveiling a Web site that spells out key races of "Muslim
interest" and ATM-like voter registration machines that will be put
in mosques and Islamic student centers.
The campaign by the Washington-based Muslim American Society is a
continuation of an effort that has been underway since the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks to increase American Muslims' involvement in the
political process. A 2005 survey by the Muslim American Political
Action Committee said 84 percent of registered Muslims voted in the
November 2004 election, compared with 41 percent in 2000.
The efforts are getting more tailored, Muslim leaders said in
announcing the creation of the society's Center for Electoral
Empowerment. The center's main feature is a Web site that offers
details on issues that the political action committee says are the
most important to Muslim voters: concerns about "the erosion of
civil liberties," "fair" immigration reform and foreign policy, said
Mukit Hossain, president of MAPAC.
The site, http://www.masvip.org/ , highlights 30 races in 11 states
where there are significant Muslim populations, including Illinois,
New Jersey, California and Texas.
The focus on Muslim voting -- both by Muslim American leaders and
political candidates -- rose again after the 2004 election, when the
Muslim vote moved significantly away from the Republican Party.
According to a September 2004 poll conducted by Zogby International
for Georgetown University's Project MAPS, 76 percent of Muslims
backed the Kerry-Edwards ticket, compared with 7 percent for Bush-
Cheney. This was a significant change from 2000, when President Bush
received 42 percent of the Muslim vote compared with Al Gore's 31
In one example of increased candidate interest in the Muslim vote,
the annual Virginia Muslim Civic Picnic, held in August for Virginia
candidates and sponsored by the Virginia Muslim Political Action
Committee, attracted 37 candidates last year, compared with two in
Estimates vary widely of the number of Muslims in the United States,
from 3 million to 7 million, and polls of U.S. Muslim political
behavior also show discrepancies.
However, polls and anecdotal research from civic leaders agree that
Muslims have become much more involved in elections, not just in
philanthropy and other civic work.
Now, Muslim leaders said yesterday, many Muslim Americans don't like
the consequences of not participating, said Mahdi Bray, executive
director of the Muslim American Society's civic training arm, the
"Now I have a double whammy: I have to worry about driving while
black and flying while Muslim," Bray said. "I say to Muslims -- take
your souls to the polls."
The MAPAC's 2005 survey found that the largest segment of registered
Muslim American voters, by age, is people between the ages of 25 and
34; 25 percent of all voters were in this age category. Women in
that age group were the largest single segment of Muslim American
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