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Faithful Democracy and the 2008 Elections: Get Out the Vote!
Faithful Democracy and the 2008 Elections: Get Out the Vote!
Religious & Civil Liberties, Election Reform, Voting Rights

Registering People to Vote Matters

It takes deep faith and a lot of hard work to keep a democracy vibrant. Our Unitarian Universalist (UU) fifth principle commitment to the democratic process and our anti-oppression commitment to strengthen the voices of historically marginalized groups call us to make sure our elections are as inclusive as possible. I applaud and support our congregations’ efforts to register voters and to ensure that the polling process is free of discrimination. If we all join in this vital effort, on November 5 we can say we did all we could to strengthen our democracy.
—Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Rev. William G. Sinkford

The November elections are fast approaching! It’s time to form Voter Registration Task Forces and mobilize Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) efforts. In the last federal election, 89% of registered voters voted, but only 72% of eligible voters were registered. That means there are still 55-60 million eligible voters who are not registered! Over 21 million of them are youth and young adults. African Americans, Latinos and low-income women also constitute a large portion of underrepresented voters.

According to the U.S. Department of the Census Report, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004, the key to voter turnout is voter registration. Once people are registered, they are on the public registered voter lists and can be contacted by campaigns, political parties, and non-partisan GOTV efforts. Our efforts can make a difference—and there is still time for action, with most state voter registration deadlines coming in early to mid-October. See VoteSmart for information on your state’s deadline.

Resources for Congregational Voter Work

The UUA has resources to assist congregational voter registration, mobilization, and education efforts.

See our Faithful Democracy: UUs and the 2008 Elections page for more resources.

Funds for Congregational Voter Work

The UU Funding Panel has Voter Registration/ Get Out the Vote (GOTV) grants (PDF)—$500 to $1500 grants for congregations now through October 15, 2008.

Partners for Congregational Voter Work

In 2004, hundreds of UU congregations registered over 80,000 new voters. Our efforts were most successful when we did this in partnership with community voter registration projects.

One of our partners, ACORN’s Project Vote, registered over 1.15 million new voters in 2004. This year their goal is to register 1.2 million voters in under-represented communities—African American, Latino, and low-income neighborhoods. Additionally, they plan to reach 2.8 million new and infrequent voters in GOTV campaigns. Project Vote is working in 26 states (PDF), including Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. For a listing of states and contact information, see their website.

In New Hampshire, there is a UU Action Network. Ten other states also have Unitarian Universalist action networks: California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, jdglasheen [at] cox [dot] net">Rhode Island, and Washington. Additionally, Virginia offers two opportunities for action, through the Virginia Organizing Project and the Virginia Student PIRG.

Other organizations are also heavily engaged in voter registration and GOTV efforts. You may connect with them on the state level. Explore opportunities with Rock the Vote, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and the League of Women Voters are also active in many states.

Visibility Matters: Wear your Unitarian Universalist(s) Standing on the Side of Love or local congregation T-Shirts while registering people to make sure they understand that your commitment to getting out the vote and supporting faithful democracy. If you have one, bring your congregational banners along for such action as well, to add visibility and offer newcomers to our faith a sense of what our commitments are.

Remember: Registering people to vote lets people know that they matter to us. This is an act of faith.

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