FLORIDA — The addition of Kamala Harris on the democratic ticket has political watchers paying to attention to an often-ignored demographic: West Indian-American voters.
Some analysts believe Harris’s Jamaican background could help the Democratic Party here in Florida.
“I’m hearing a lot of excitement from the Jamaican community,” said Dionnie Wynter Pfunde, an immigration attorney based in Riverview. “We, for so long, have not been a part of the political process. We’ve never had a Jamaican anything in the White House.”
Harris’ ethnicity could play a key role in the battleground state of Florida. An estimated 300,000 Jamaicans-Americans live in the Sunshine state.
But Republican Political Analyst Berny Jacques, who is of Haitian descent, believes it’s Harris’ political positions that Caribbean voters will ultimately focus on.
“Although there are milestones to be excited about l think at the end of the day all voters, even Jamaican voters, Caribbean voters, you name it, are going to vote based on the issues that matter most to them,” Jacques said.
One issue that could be a concern to those voters in Florida is Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment requiring citizenship to vote.
Federal law makes it illegal for non-citizens to vote and the amendment has some naturalized citizens worried this could be used to strip them of their voting rights.
Jacques said that is not the case.
“It’s not some kind of tactic to exclude any type of citizens. All citizens will be able to vote under that amendment,” he said.
Pfunde says the language in the amendment should not alarm anyone but she is pleased that these voters are paying attention to the issues.
“We want to be a part of the American Dream and part of the American Dream is being able to vote and work and not be marginalized,” she said. “We are extremely happy for Senator Kamala Harris to be on that democratic ticket.”