Registering & Mobilizing Voters with DisabilitiesDownload Audio
Organizer’s Forum: Tuesday, September 20th
Topic: Registering & Mobilizing Voters with Disabilities
Code: 125175#Major elections are less than two months away. On the ballot is a huge presidential decision, state and local races, and many state and local ballot measures regarding housing, attendant support, and other issues. Will the disability community be heard?? It is our job to make that happen. Join us to hear from experienced organizers in disability communities and in other marginalized communities, sharing what they are doing to get people excited to vote.
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The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.
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Looking forward to talking with you all!
Jessica Lehman and Diane Coleman
Co-Chairs, National Organizing Workgroup
Call Transcript: 9-20-16
Event: Organizer’s Forum: Registering & Mobilizing Voters with Disabilities
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[Cart Captioning standing by]
>> I know it is 1 o’clock, people are joining. Let’s do introductions for those who are on. There’s not that many of us so people can go ahead and introduce themselves in any order.
>> I’m Helen Walsh from diverse disability media.
>> Stacey Ashman.
>> I’m Megan Moore from center for disability rates.
>> Oh, great.
>> You know what, I’m sorry. I should have gone geographically the way I normally do. Let’s do that. I always start with the West Coast or the entire west.
>> Brianna Gibson. Black youth project.
>> You are hear Brianna, thank you.
>> Oh, great.
>> This is Zach with [inaudible].
>> Zach with APD?
>> Great. Anybody else from the west on the call yet? Okay, moving to the Midwest. Idaho, Montana, Colorado. You all know better than I do if your state is included in the Midwest.
>> This is Reyma McCoy McDeid with Central Iowa Center for Independent Living in Des Moines, Iowa.
>> Good to have Kathleen O’Leary on the call.
>> Welcome. Who do we have from the south? Are we missing the whole south? We have to work on that. How about moving up the East Coast, Maryland, Virginia, whole area?
>> Hi, my name is Kenneth I’m from the Rockland Independent Living Center in New York.
>> Great. Okay.
>> Megan House from New York.
>> Denice [inaudible] from the [inaudible] in New York.
>> And Megan Moore from the center of disability rates in New York.
>> Okay, anyone on the call right now that hasn’t introduced themselves yet, please go ahead.
>> Yes, good morning. This is Julia Freeman Wolford from Disability Rights from New Hampshire.
>> Rick Langley, Disability Rights Maine.
>> California for Disability Rights in California.
>> I can’t hear this at all.
>> Rick Langley, Disability Rights, Maine.
>> Stacey Ashpen, Illinois.
>> I’m glad I figured this out at 10:04. Thank you.
>> All right, the first speaker I heard, Brianna, and Reyma, do we have Dolores. And we have Sabrina, too. I will go ahead and mute everyone. We will get started in a second. All right, so welcome back everyone to the organizer’s forum. Thank you so much for joining us today. For those who don’t know the Organizer’s Forum is a monthly call designed to support and expand community organizing in disability communities and so on the call we share ideas and strategies about specifically how do we do the work, how do we get people involved, how do we recruit people, develop leadership and how do we work with different communities and take a broad social justice approach to our work.
In addition to our sem let me go in order. So my name is Jessica Layman, I co chair the Organizer’s Forum along with Diane Coleman. I work as the executive director of senior and disability action in San Francisco.
Diane, do you want to go ahead and introduce yourself and say something about NDLA. You have to hit star 6 to unmute yourself.
>> This is Diane Coleman, I’m with not dead yet, part of the steering committee of the National Disability Leadership Alliance. Leadership alliance is an organization run by, I think, now 15 national disability groups that are run by people with disabilities ourselves, providers and others who can be our allies. And so we are happy to have been supporting the forum that really was an idea birthed by Jessica many years ago to support community organizations on all the issues that the disability community works on.
>> Great, thank you, Diane. We are so glad to have the call captioned, to be accessible. So if you would like to go on there, be sure that you need to enter your user name, as password forum all lower case. And then you can also click in comments or questions on the chat window and Diane will read those out when we get to the open dialogue.
We want to remind everyone to speak slowly and clearly, including myself. I need to be reminded. And please say your name before you speak so we know who you are. We do have everyone muted right now. We are sure you will be able to unmute yourselves. Please don’t put us on hold. We have problems withhold music. We can always hang up and call back when you are ready. And so I have started to say we have the monthly calls but we, of course, recognize that an hour a month is not enough to get into a lot of the topics we cover. So we do have a list serve on Yahoo groups, Organizer’s Forum, one word, and click join. You will get the notices about the calls and any other key information. The transcript and recordings of the call are on the web site, NDLA web site, disabilityleadership.org. Then we are also on Facebook. It’s organizers forum, like it sounds, two words. I apologize that I realize this call did not make it up on the Facebook site. I’m always looking for someone who can help me do that. So if you are interested, please let me know. But we really invite people on the call today. Go on list serve for folks that missed it or continue the conversation. If a speaker says something that stands out or you have a question of something you want to try in your own community, please make a quick note so that we can continue the conversation.
Okay, we are ready to move on. Let me get my notes here. Okay. So over the course of the last many years, there has been a lot of talk about voting in the disability community and I think a lot of us are trying to learn from each other and learn from other communities and other movements about how do we do a really good job getting voters with disabilities to the polls. How do we get people registered? How do we get people engaged? How do we make sure that they actually do go and vote? And so there’s a lot of different pieces about that as far as accessibility. Today what we want to focus on is the community organizing side of it. How do we get people to want to vote and get people engaged? Of course, this election is huge from the presidential election down to state and local races. And lots of locals initiatives in California, issues all over the country I’m sure having to do with affordable and accessible housing, all kinds of issues that have a huge impact on the disability community or on disability communities, more broadly.
So we are delighted today that we have two people working in disability communities who can talk about what they are doing and some of their lessons learned. And we have two people from different communities who are not focused on working with people with disabilities but who can really tell us what they have been doing and we can get a lot of ideas from them.
So on that note, let me introduce our first speaker. Can you all hear me? You are on mute. So we will start with Dolores Tejada, who I had the pleasure of working for at Independent Living Resources in California. She is queer brown fat crip Latina who has been doing disability organizing for nearly 7 years. She has worked on accessible online voter registration as part of the Disability Organizing Network empowering youth with disabilities to use accessible voting machines in Alameda County in collaboration with the Registrar of Voters and is currently leading her second Get Out The Vote campaign for Community Resources for Independent Living. So go ahead, Dolores. Would he can’t hear you yet, Dolores.
>> Can you hear me? Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. Can you clarify how much time I have again? Five minutes? Is that right?
>> Yeah, you can take five to eight minutes, I think.
>> Okay, great. Thanks. So I want to talk a little bit about some of the strategies that we have used at community resources for independent living for our Get Out The Vote campaign. And I’m going to start with voter registration and then go into broader Get Out The Vote strategies. So first of all, our Get Out The Vote campaign focused in Hayward, California. We focused particularly in on one city for our first Get Out The Vote campaign. Because we wanted to it was our first time doing it and we wanted to have a he focused area to have a big impact basically. That’s something that we need to remember, just because there is, you know, this issue can be a very large, turning people out to vote, can seem like a very big issue. We don’t necessarily have to take it on all. We can focus on one particular area and start small. That still creates a large impact. Don’t think that just because it’s a large issue that you have to extend yourself or overexert yourself. You can start in one community, one city, one town and that is still really powerful because if we think about, with everyone in the disability community starts small, that starts a larger impact.
In voter registration, one thing I do want to talk about is that voter registration is a really great stepping stone. I think it is one of the things that I think is essential to the past independence because it lets you practice advocacy skills and lets you decide for yourself what you want, so voter so the act of voter registration to me in practicing to register to vote is something that I think is real important because it is making a decision for what you want to do. But it’s also not getting out the vote. It is a particular step to Get Out The Vote but it is not voter turnout.
So something that I recognize in the disability community is that we are ending with voter registration. We are aren’t going beyond that. That’s something that I have seen in my community. It may not be true in every community but when we talk about getting out the vote, that means actually going to the polling place. That doesn’t mean just voter registration. So I am going to talk about voter registration really quickly, though, because it obviously is the first step.
One of the things that I found really useful is to collect the information twice, basically. When we are registered people to vote, we have a voter pledge form and so we actually don’t open with, Are you registered to vote? We realize that just doesn’t work. People don’t really respond well to, Are you registered to vote? They can simply say no.
We have a voter pledge form that we created in partnership with the disability organizing network. It is a form that collects the voter information. Name, address, phone number and it asks people if it is their first time voting, registered to vote before. If they care about disability issues, so we identify the vote pledge form is a great step to ask to open with because instead of saying are you registered to vote, we say, Hi, do you want to pledge to vote in 2016? Or, Can we have your commitment to vote for disability issues in 2016? Do you prioritize disability issues when you vote?
Those are better opening questions to start a dialogue especially if where communicating, or folks in a space with people with disabilities. They are going to say, what disability issues, what are you talking about. They may say what’s the particular thing that has to do with disability on the ballot. They will ask open questions or become more engaged because it’s already attracting them on an identity that they carry.
So the voter pledge form is a lot more successful in our community and it’s very easy to create.
So the other way that we use the voter pledge form, once they fill it out, we have their information as well and we put that into a basic Excel spreadsheet. As we are building voter pledge as we are collecting voter pledges, we are building our Excel spreadsheet.
That becomes useful later because we can check if their voter registration card went through, if we need to call them and maybe they mentioned they needed a ride to a polling place, we can follow up with them and say, Hey, do you know the bus route? Do you want help getting there? Things like that. So the voter pledge is a way to keep in contact with them to do that follow-up step of actually getting to the polling place.
Because I want people to think quickly about how hard if you have done voter registration before, think about how hard it is to convince someone to register to vote. A lot of people, there’s naturally what I have experienced is that there’s a little bit of resistance when folks are registering to vote unless you engage in them in a larger conversation. So think about the hesitation that people have to register to vote. If they are hesitant, how much more difficult it will be to get them to engage in the act of voting. It is going to be hard. So you have to motivate them and work with them and meet them where they are by engaging them in the topic or in topics that are going to be engaging to them in a nonpartisan way.
When we talk about, when we ask the questions, do you care about disability issues when you vote, that is still an open ended question. We don’t have to tell people how to vote. We just want to know, do you prioritize your disability identity when you vote? We don’t ask them how they care about a particular issue or their perspective on disability issues in order to get them to vote a particular way. We are asking them to think about their identity in the voting box, in the same way that I carry my identity as a Latina or as a queer person, I also think about my identity in terms of disability.
So that’s one way to really engage folks that we found really works for us, is to start with the pledge form. And that works as a better conversation opener than are you registered to vote. It collects information to stay connected with them to commit with them to actually go to the polling place.
So we use both forms for phone banking ultimately.
So, again, though, voter registration is a key step but we as a disability community have to stop thinking that that’s the end game of the work that we do. So some of the really great places that we found to go out to register people to vote are places where we sometimes avoid as disability communities just because there could be trauma inducing or the history.
So definitely if you have a volunteer team or if you are comfortable, think about the places where people with disabilities are being oppressed. Think about certain types of living facilities, nursing facilities, maybe even hospitals. Places where historically we have been marginalized or afraid to go is one place to start because those are the folks that are going to need this act of independence or skill building the most.
And one place that really surprised me that was the idea of one of our volunteers of where to go was mobile home parks. So it’s really cool because at mobile home parks, it’s a lot of folks, a lot of residents congregated in technically a smaller space, right. And a lot of those folks not only maybe people with disabilities but people who are lower income or who are lower income and don’t identify with disability identity yet. So I think mobile home parks is one of the better places that we found where folks are wanting to be engaged and can engage in voting to register people to vote.
The last place that I would like to suggest are high schools. I have been really successful in connecting with places where there are students or young folks aging into the act of voting and it doesn’t have to be all the work put on you. What I have done that’s really successful is connected with our county registrar of voters and so I have been basically e mailing the registrar voters I have my one connection there that I established who is the outreach coordinator. Every time I connect at the high school or with an organization, I do e mail where I include the contact at that organization or at that high school and I say, Hey, they want an outreach at their event. When can you go? The registrar of voters will go and register them and bring that connection to them so that maybe you don’t have a volunteer team, maybe it is just you, but you are still reaching out to that certain population through the registrar of voters.
And the other piece the registrar of voters does that breaks down the barrier is they bring practice ballots and helps people fill them out as well as accessible voting machines. And the learning how to use an accessible voting machine, I think, is one of the key steps to encouraging people to vote. So that’s one thing
>> Dolores, I’m sorry to cut you off. If you can wrap up. This is wonderful.
>> So the end game is ultimately voting and I just want to think about other communities who have established voting blocks that we hear notice media. For example, Latinos are considered a voting bloc. African Americans are considered a voting block and women are considered a voting block as well. So I just communities have had a civil rights movement and have had a history of engaging their communities in voting. So we are the disability community. That’s where we need to be. In our civil rights movement, I do think we are like 20 years behind other civil rights movement. This is really the next big step. Engaging people in the act of voting to build our voting bloc. Thank you.
>> Thank you so much, Dolores, really specific tips were incredibly helpful. I look forward to talking about them later on in the call. So our next speaker is Reyma McCoy McDeid. I mispronounced your first name. Reyma the founder and chair of Iowa Disabilities Votes Count, a statewide initiative led by voters with disabilities that works to engage people with disabilities and educate elected officials on the issues that impact Iowa’s largest minority community. She is also the executive director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living in Des Moines, Iowa, and holds a master’s degree in nonprofit administration with concentrations in business and human services.
So thank you for joining us, Reyma. Again, you may have to hit star 6 to unmute yourself. We don’t hear you yet, Reyma.
>> Can you hear me now?
>> Yes, there you are. Thank you. Go ahead.
>> Thank you, Jessica. Well, I’m glad to have the opportunity to visit with everyone that’s on the call this afternoon about my favorite subject and by happenstance, Kathleen O’Leary is also on the call. She is also one of the executive officers of Iowa disability votes count. So Kathleen is, at any time you want to chime in, please feel free to do so. But I think I’m going to pick up where our first wonderful facilitator left off. That’s with the question of why is the disability wing of the civil rights movement about a generation behind the other movements? Because that has been the impetus behind Iowa disability votes count. And in my opinion with regards to that is historically people with disabilities have not been at the forefront of advocating for our own rights and our own situation in society. It has been our guardians, advocates and other stakeholders that have done that for us by and large. That has definitely impacted progress, I think. I like to call it helping hand strikes again. A movement really can’t gain momentum until the actual people who are at the forefront of the movement are able to stand front and center. And so Iowa disability votes count is an initiative completely led by people with disabilities. Voters with disabilities and our mission is to mobilize people with disabilities to engage in the political process at every available opportunity. When we say that, we are really talking about going above and beyond voting. Up to and including participation in one’s political party of choice and elected and volunteer leadership opportunities and also ultimately running for office. There’s an election going on in the state of Illinois between two individuals who both experience disabilities and I think that’s a historical event. We want to make sure that that’s something that becomes more commonplace. Because we are the largest minority group in the country at 56 million and really should be more widely represented throughout society.
And so, as far as the state of Iowa and what we are doing to mobilize voters with disabilities to engage in the political process, a bit of background. Iowa Disabilities Votes Count is a 501(c) 3. We came that being earlier this year as a direct result of one big thing that has happened in Iowa.
Our Medicaid programs have become privatized this year. And what was happening late 2015 and early 2016 was a lot of frustration and consternation from medicate members, many of whom suffered disabilities with regard to what was happening with their services and how privatization would impact those services. So with that confusion came a lot of frustration and anger. And peers came to myself and Kathleen with the question of, what do we do with our frustration? What do we do with our anger? Both Kathleen and my response to our peers was very simple. It was, Do you vote? Are you registered to vote? When was the last time you participated in a voting capacity in an election?
And in Iowa, there are 315,000 people who experience disability eligible to vote. According to the Secretary of State between 6% and 10% of those individuals vote on a semi regular basis. And so by and large people who have been feeling impacted by Medicaid privatization in the state of Iowa and frustrated with that, we are not voting individuals. Iowa Disabilities Votes Count got started this year to remedy that situation. And what we have been doing as far as mobilizing prospective voters with disabilities has been pretty simple. We have been facilitating opportunities for prospective voters with disabilities to connect with candidates for elected positions and with bona fide elected officials to have conversations with each other.
We see ourselves as sort of a liaison between two seemingly disparate worlds that should not be so. Elected officials should be in regular conversation with their constituents and that obviously includes people with disabilities. And so earlier in the summer we organized forums throughout the state of Iowa that were very well attended by people with disabilities but also by candidates and elected officials. At our forum in Cedar Rapids, on the east side of Iowa, there was a 50/50 split in the crowd of people with disabilities and candidates. So we are very happy that people who want to be in service positions at the legislative level are getting the message that voters with disabilities are a huge part of the population, extremely overlooked as far as voting initiatives are concerned, and that that’s something that needs to change. That, indeed, every vote does count.
We have got a variety of elections occurring here in November 2016 where it is really going to be down to the wire and so it’s incredibly important that people who are eligible to vote and have not voted get registered and be able to participate. We have got some elections where historically the winner of the contest is won by as few as 17 votes. So very, very important.
The great thing about the state of Iowa is there are many ways to vote. That’s the other thing that we have been doing at Iowa Disabilities Votes Count. We have been providing educational opportunities for the media, at our forums, our Facebook page with regards to the fact that you can participate in voting in the state of Iowa in many ways. You don’t have to just show up to your polling place on election day. Absentee balloting is a huge thing in Iowa. And we will be able to vote by absentee ballot in Iowa beginning on September 29th. Additionally, a person can go to their county auditor’s office and vote beginning September 29th as well.
>> I just wanted to give you just a heads up if you can wrap up soon, that would be great.
>> Okay. We also have curb side voting in the state of Iowa. Nobody knows about it. We are telling everyone about it. On Election Day, a person can go to their polling place, request that two officials come out to their car with a ballot and they can fill it out in their car. So basically what we have been doing is identifying the primary barrier to voting in the state of Iowa, which is misinformation about how to vote. And providing clarification about that. Then the other big message that we have been banging the drum about is the fact that in the state of Iowa, just because you have a disability does not disqualify you from voting. The only reason why a person would not be able to vote in the state of Iowa because of their disability is because they have stood before a judge and they have deemed them not able to vote. And so that’s particularly important for our brothers and sisters who have intellectual disabilities. And so we are just on a grassroots level and at the level of media working and you are way throughout the state and delivering those messages with the hope that we will have a strong turnout of voters with disabilities on November 8th. Thank you very much.
>> Thank you so much, Reyma. I’m sorry, we could listen to each of you for an hour. So much good information to share and amazing to hear how your coalition came together relatively recently and done so much. Thank you for that.
>> No problem.
>> I have to look at my notes here. Okay. So I think we are going to have Sabrina yet. Sabrina is in transit. We actually just met at the same conference in Washington, D.C.. Sabrina, can you let me know if you hit star 6. Are you at an okay place to speak or would you rather have Brianna go first? Sabrina, are you there?
>> Hi, can you hear me?
>> We can. You can go ahead and introduce.
>> This is good as time as any, I will, yeah, go ahead.
>> Okay, I will keep it short so you can talk. Sabrina Mauritz is the organizing director of Care Worker Action, part of Take Action Minnesota. They are using the election to politicize care workers, families and clients connected to the personal attendant program. Aiming to position workers, disabilities and families as decision makers and experts starting with showing our power in this election. Go ahead Sabrina.
>> Hi all. So I really love all that’s been shared before and I just want to kind of bring in a couple of basics and then talk a little bit about how we are implementing these basics in our work. So Get Out The Vote, voter turnout, we call it GOTV. Whenever you are talking to someone who is a voter or a potential voter, some people who work in elections think that there are two kind of conversations. A persuasion conversation when you are trying to get someone to vote for a particular candidate or for a particular measure. And then there is a turnout conversation where you think the person is with you on your issue but they need some motivation to vote. I do not believe that. I think that all conversations are persuasion conversations because people don’t vote for a reason. Oftentimes it is because of misinformation or lack of access. But a lot more of the time it’s because people have a belief that their vote doesn’t matter. And even though that’s for your own community, like what is the thing there. And so what we found is that the best way to persuade anyone is not to lecture them. It’s not to tell them how angry you are with them that they won’t vote but to really, like, deeply engage with them about why they have the belief that their vote don’t matter. And we did some other folks talk on that it’s a lot of misinformation as well which is great. And this is for those other folks.
Can you hear me okay? It got really loud for a second.
>> You let me know. Let me know if it is too loud. I’m getting on a bus. We waving good bye to people.
So the way that I found the persuasion conversations go around voting is there’s two parts. One where you really talk to them, one where you are really talking to people about, like, why they believe their vote doesn’t matter. Some of the questions that we say when we are talking to people or when we are texting with them or any of these other things is we say, you know, like what we use for care workers is do you feel like people at the Capitol really understand what you do? Do you feel like the people making decisions about your work understand your life as a home care worker? And inevitably, every time I have asked that question it is no. And sometimes it is laughter. Sometimes it is anger. People seem very clear that, like, the people making decisions about our lives and our families and our work are not us and they do not understand.
And so it is really valuable to get people, like, in the understanding of what could be different.
From there, we talk about why. So it’s like, are you do you plan to vote in and people saying, yes, no, I don’t know. And then we really unpack, like the line I like to use. I used to think that all politicians are pretty much the same and I couldn’t count on them. What I decided is that these decisions really affect my life and the people I care about and so I have to vote for people I think have my best interest at heart and who share my values. You don’t have to go and say who you think they should vote for depending on your context. I think it is great when we can. But more important that you have a conversation that actually gets people thinking differently about their relationship with politicians so that, like the first speaker said, people can think about not just voting but mobilizing other people to vote, running for office themselves. That’s the persuasion part of the conversation. And again, this can happen over text message. It can happen this person. It can happen on the phone in the phone bank.
The other thing, part of the conversation is making a plan. So in Minnesota we have three different ways you can vote. A lot of folks use the language absentee ballot. I think that that’s fine. That’s what most states use. I like to use early in person voting and vote by mail. They are all absentee voting opportunities but they actually mean something to people when they hear them. So we say you can there’s a lot of ways you can vote this year . You can vote by mail. You can vote early in person or you can vote on Election Day. What do you want to do? And what we are doing when we are talking about this is actually getting them picturing the act of voting. So it is not just this is also when you would register people, too. So it is not just about them saying, oh, yeah, great, I will vote. But actually picturing what they are going to do and that making a mental, like, map of this is what my day looks like. Great. And they say, you know, especially if they are voting in person on Election Day, great, what time of the day do you think you will go? Are you busy on Tuesday? What do you do on Tuesday and how will you get there? Going through those steps.
And so people are like, oh, yeah, I know my polling place is across this street at a church or wherever it is. You say great, how will you get there and answer I any other questions that you might have.
I want to highlight voting by mail. Voting my mail, I think, for many people is a really acceptable, great way to vote. Usually you can get your ballot a month ahead of time or more. You will be in really good shape if you can get that done. You have to check for your state, if you request a vote by mail ballot, if you get it in the mail, you can still go vote on Election Day without it being, like you have options. I also just want to highlight so these are also, this is all stuff that we are doing. As we talk to care workers, get them to talk to their communities and their clients and people are in their lives.
The other thing I would say is don’t be afraid to text message. Many of us communicate over text. Some people think it is illegal. It is not illegal to text the person one on one. It is not okay to dump a bunch of people’s phone numbers without their permission with a program that mass text. You as an individual can text individual people. You can have a conversation with them that way. Especially with people you have had previous contact with and you know, if you have a phone number on Election Day, that’s a great time to send a personal text. Hi, Matt, it’s Sabrina. Tomorrow is Election Day. You vote at Bethlehem Church. Text me when you have voted.
And even if people have same day registration, anything like that, do those details over text. If you think about it, I have several hundred unread emails in my inbox. I do not have any unread text. I have 40 voicemails from my mother I have not returned but I have no unread text. So this is and I’m bad at calling my mom back. That’s a thing. Think about how do you communicate with people. How would you make plans with a friend and use those same tools.
The best way to get any list is from your the people you already have in your organization. Petitions, things like that. If you are in a state if you don’t feel like you have a list, you might want to think about building relationships with a nonpartisan voter organization. One that is national and has many affiliates locally is State Voices. So you can look them up and see what it would take to join. I’m not sure.
I think as you can, engage in a partisan candidate. Pick candidates who believe will be your champions or you can develop into champions. It is always great if you do that and you can legally do anything you want as a volunteer with campaigns. So when it comes to tax statuses, go for it.
>> Great, thank you Sabrina. Appreciate you doing that while you are getting on the bus. I loved a lot of those really concrete ideas about what time are you voting, how will you get there and texting people. Thank you for that.
The last speaker on the call today is Brianna Gibson. She is a national organizing co chair for BYP100. She supports BYP100 members and affiliates in nine cities in local electoral organizing, including voter registration and education aimed at toward building Black power. Brianna resides in Oakland, California.
>> Can you all hear me?
>> Now we can, thank you. I think I accidentally muted myself first. Great, yes. I’m from BYP100. Black youth project 100, we are a member based organization of black 18 to 35 year olds who are organizers and activists. And we are a collection of folks who are working toward black liberation and that involves building black power and confronting, like, the systemic powers that oppress black people which are approximately all of them in the United States. Not approximately, all of them. And in building power to confront those powers and reimagine the world that we want to live in. And so it is interesting, BYP100 engagement with this election cycle and election in general is unexpected for some folks in that some of even our members have questions around because we are a lot more well known for direct action campaigns and raising awareness around the ways in which black people are oppressed and not necessarily for engaging in electoral politics with the exception of from campaigns that our members have done in order to insure that certain elected officials were not re elected. The Bye Anita Campaign with the State’s Attorney that the Chicago chapter worked on. And they were able to successfully oust her. But for us, we do think it’s important to engage in this election cycle and in an election cycle in general because we see it as a form of building black power, building independent black political power and also gaining some tangible wins for our folks, even if we know we don’t have any strong investment in any of these systems and we know that none of them will ever work for black people, and we know by an extension voting went get us to liberation. It is one tactic and strategy that we can use to gain tangible wins while we gain power. We are running programs in nine cities.
For the most part, that has looked like partnering with various organizations and community based groups in those cities. Hosting events and canvassing. So we are currently doing a lot of voter registration and voter education. I think that Dolores was someone who talked earlier about voter pledge forms. That is something that we also use while we are doing voter registration. We use voter pledge cards. I think in addition to capturing folks who may not necessarily be interested in an initial ask of whether or not they are registered, it’s also a good way for us of highlighting the issues that can be talked about in an election cycle that also impact black purple as well as surveying where people are at on certain electoral issues. Our voter pledge card, first line is do you love black people? And then there are questions around, I pledge to vote this election season because I believe in building independent black political power or economic justice for black communities or improving education in my community or defunding the police. So any of those specific key areas and those are also points where we can begin to elaborate more and begin a conversation with folks around what that might look like in this political cycle.
I think here it is also important to note that BYP100, we don’t endorse individual political candidates but we use the election cycle as really an opportunity to talk about the issues and encourage folks to vote in a way that’s beneficial for black people. There are a couple of ways that we engage with that. So one is via voter education and really digging in to what is coming up in this election cycle and where folks stand as well as what we know is in the realm of positive things for black folks and black communities and then the realm of negative things for black folks and black communities. Right now is a good time to have those conversations because recently the movement for black lives also came out with vision for black lives which is our policy platform. BYP100 climbed on to that. And then we also have an agenda to build black futures that BYP100 released earlier this year before the vision for black lives came out. Those are policy platforms that we can use to discuss the issues with people and really begin to tease out where certain candidates stand and not in a banner of endorsing candidates but getting people to understand like what are the issues on the ballot and where is my vote going. And from there to start to imagine what it might look like for the vote to actually have an impact because I think something that particularly we have encountered with black youth is that folks are not voting because they are disillusioned with the entire system and they don’t believe it works. And for us, it’s important for folks to see areas where it actually is really important and your vote does count. So, for instance, in California we have Prop 57 and Your Vote Counts for making sure that people that people who are incarcerated within the criminal justice system that we can continue to, like, undermine those systems and move our people out of those systems and also take care of people in a humane way who are currently caught up in those systems.
And so that’s our approach to the work right now and then moving more to get the vote type things and the weeks leading up to the election and then, yeah, I think in general this is something that’s relatively new for BYP100. We have a lot of room to grow and learn. I’m curious as to what kind of questions folks are going to bring up and what kind of conferring that might start because this is something that we are, by no means, pro that.
>> Great, thank you so much, Brianna. So great to have you on and hear the perspective of the work you are doing. Appreciate it.
So we have eight minutes exactly for some conversation. I do want to remind people that hopefully we can continue this really rich conversation on the list serve and on Facebook. If you are at a computer, you know, you’ve heard a ton of things, pass something on so that we can spark some conversation there.
So you can everybody is muted but anybody can hit star 6 to unmute yourselves. So go ahead and do that if you have a question or comment.
>> Okay, go ahead.
>> I have a question. My name is Kenneth. One of the speakers was saying, mentioning how, you know, getting transportation out to the voting venues, because, I, myself, an advocate and visually impaired to become independent is transportation. Would that be something that would be done through an agency or through the board of elections? How would we help to get transportation out so that it can go out to vote.
>> This is Dolores.
>> This is Sabrina, I have a thought on that unless someone can jump in. So in our state, the League of Women Voters is an organization that focuses on giving rides on Election Day to people who need them for whatever reason. So that’s one organization that may or may not in your state have some infrastructure around that. As well as whatever your local mobility services are. But League of Women Voters is something I would check out for your area.
>> This is Dolores. So in the broader sense, I know transportation is absolutely, I think, one of the most difficult aspects to organize around getting people to the polling place. So one thing that I would suggest is having a conversation with that person about how they usually get around and what their method is. Maybe they need to learn which bus to take or what stops at or to know where their polling place is. And so one resource is an Independent Living Center who may do travel training to help that person practice how to get there. Another thing that we are doing at our center is we are going to do early voting so we are doing a group trip together to the early voting location site so people can go together and vote early. And then again also reiterating that it doesn’t have to be on you directly to provide that ride. Look at community look at your community and other organizations to may be providing that. We are partnering with our local NAACP chapter because they historically have done poll rides and so we are collaborating with them to connect folks that we know who are come to our center and who are black and who are voters. Also connecting people who are voters who need transportation help as well. So that we can ensure that those folks have a ride to the poll.
>> Great. Thank you.
>> Thank you. Who else has a question?
>> This is Diane. I would be interested in hearing from folks on, in terms of motivating voters, there’s been a lot of voter suppression legislation passed in the last two to three years that removes early voting or takes other steps that make it harder to vote and I would think that some of our folks could get motivated to vote to rebel against that, in response to that. And I wonder if any of you have used that argument, don’t let this happen, don’t let them get away with it type of a persuasion to get people to commit to voting.
>> So this is Brianna. Can you hear me?
>> There’s a lot of background noise. We can sort of hear you.
>> Okay. I don’t think that’s my background noise. There we go. Someone muted themselves. Okay.
>> Thank you.
>> No problem. So I think that is one of the issues that folks have been talking a lot about, voter suppression. I think in general, yes, that is something that we use in order to encourage people to vote by saying, like, voter suppression in this case or there’s a myriad of other things that negatively impact our folks, specifically the black community. These things are happening. These are going on and there are potentially ways for you to fight back against that and contribute to actually actively repealing something like that through a proposition or something that may be local or statewide on your ballot or moving toward electing folks who would be in direct opposition to those things through your vote. And so I think that, yes, it’s definitely a strategy to use in order to encourage people to vote in order to rebel against the policies that are currently in place that are meant to marginalize our folks and keep them out of having their voice heard in the election cycle and in this particular system.
I think a lot of that comes from really hearing folks out when you are talking to them through canvassing and having those one on one conversations and also doing a combination of voter education and some agitation within that in order to get folks to actually move into action.
>> Thank you, Brianna. This is Jessica, unfortunately we have to wrap up even though I would love to have a lot more conversation with all of you. I want to give a huge thank you to all of our speakers for being on. I know some people well, everyone is in the middle of all sorts of busy things, right before the election. Thank you for taking the time. Thank you to our captioner for making the call accessible. I wondering before we close, Zach, are you still there and do you want to say something about how people can plug into ongoing get out the vote work through APD? If you are there, hit star 6 to unmute yourself.
I guess Zach had to get off. Zach has been organizing folks through Rev Up which is a national disability voter engagement plan. So stay tuned. We will make sure to put out more information on the Yahoo groups list serve and on Facebook about what people can do and how to get involved and how we can continue learning from each other in the disability community and from other communities and movements that have so much experience to share.
So thank you again to everybody. And have a great afternoon.