12 Days to Go! Oct. 21, 2020. By Sharon Johnson.
Earlier this year, the UUCF Racial Justice Steering Committee (RJSC) enthusiastically decided to support the Unitarian Universalist Association’s UU the VOTE campaign as one of its key projects. How is getting out the vote this election year a racial justice issue, you might ask? Over the last few years our country has faced threats to democracy overall, and we have witnessed attacks on almost every issue that touches our lives. Among these are income inequality, fair housing, affordable education, the environment, access to health care, a woman’s right to body autonomy, LGBTQ+ rights, food insecurity, unjust immigration and deportation policies, imprisoning children in camps separated from their parents, the use of excessive force by police, tax laws favoring the wealthy, attacks on science, attacks on the press and free speech, failing infrastructure, and the list goes on. Then add the impact of and ineffectual response to the pandemic and the unabashed and not-so-subtle efforts at widespread voter suppression.
While these issues affect us all in some way, they have the greatest impact on marginalized communities. People who are traditionally racially and ethnically marginalized often have inadequate access to housing, schools, health care facilities, jobs, transportation, clean water, etc. In a country with the wealth and resources of the United States, how can we stand by without actively working to ensure that all people have equal access to these most fundamental rights?
That is why the RJSC joined the UU the VOTE campaign. We are at a crossroads. The Nov. 3 election will determine in which direction this country is headed. Policies enacted by the next administration will impact us all. Hopefully they will be positive. But, as always, any negative impact will be felt most keenly by marginalized communities. In the past few months many of you have participated in monthly letter-writing parties, mailed postcards and participated in phone and text banks to key states encouraging people to register to vote and to vote on Nov. 3. Now, more than ever, our voices must be heard.
In these last couple of weeks before the election, talk with friends, family and co-workers. Encourage them to vote if they have not already done so. Help at the polls. Contribute to your chosen candidates. And most important, make your voice heard. VOTE.
Note: As alternatives to voting in person on Nov. 3, you can still mail in your ballot (must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3) or vote early in person (last day is Oct. 31). Accommodations are available to assist in voting, including curbside voting for those over age 65 or who have a physical disability. The state offers a list of voting options and assistance.
If you have questions, you can:
- Contact your local voter registration office.
- Contact the Virginia Department of Elections, 800-552-9745.
- TTY Phone Access for Hearing Impaired: Contact Virginia Relay Service at 711 and ask them to call the Virginia Department of Elections at 800-552-9745 or your local voter registration office.
If you are concerned that your rights to accessible voting/registration have been violated, you can:
- Contact your local voter registration office or electoral board.
- Contact the Accessibility Coordinator at the Department of Elections, 800-552-9745 or TTY 711.
For ways to get involved with UU the VOTE:
- Phone and text banks are still going strong between now and the election! Find a phone or text bank here. Most include supportive training, and it’s a great way to get involved.
- We’re launching an effort to support voters at the polls, providing snacks, water, folding chairs, and information. Sign up here to get involved.
- Apply to be an election officer here. You can also get involved as a non-partisan election monitor here.