The Black Lives Matter to AEU statement to reaffirm past resolutions for racial justice was approved by the Assembly of the American Ethical Union and is now available on the website. The reaffirmation calls for action on a number of fronts and this week I’d like to focus on a particular action that I believe fits both the statement and this moment in time.

From the “Moving Forward within an Anti-racist Framework” section of that statement:
“It is vital that we listen to, engage with, and follow the lead of organizers who represent the most adversely affected among us as they choose avenues for repair and organize us toward effective action.”

This being a Presidential election year there is particular urgency to address the harms of voter disenfranchisement. In a number of areas in the country restrictive policies have resulted in people being unfairly removed from voter registration rolls, strict identification laws that especially affect Black people and other vulnerable populations, reductions in polling locations, and efforts to limit early voting and vote by mail. The impact of these and other measures has been greatly compounded by the coronavirus pandemic which makes voting in person a significant health risk and makes it difficult to house polling sites or staff them.

The American Ethical Union has become a national partner with the Center for Common Ground’s “Reclaim Our Vote” campaign headed up by Andrea Miller. Reclaim Our Vote (ROV) is a nonpartisan campaign that reaches out to voters of color in states that have engaged in voter suppression and encourages them to check their registration status, provides important information about voting opportunities and issues, and encourages people to make a pledge to vote and to urge others to vote as well.

In May of this year the AEU’s “Saving Our Democracy Through Voting” forum learned of the New York Society for Ethical Culture’s work with ROV to send postcards to voters who were at risk of being removed from voter registration rolls. Many Society representatives were enthusiastic about joining the campaign and sixteen Societies have postcarding volunteers. We have sent out over 37,000 postcards.

In the beginning of this month, we have begun recruiting volunteers to participate in Phone Banking with ROV and we would like to see as much or more enthusiasm for this aspect of the ROV campaign.

There are many excellent reasons for phone banking through ROV:

  • ROV is making calls to people of color in areas that have had significant voter suppression activities
  • ROV is providing helpful information rather than campaigning, and
  • ROV is providing encouragement to people who are more often presented with disincentives and discouragements.
  • A good percentage of people who are reached by phone act upon the information provided and vote.

I am a participant with the ROV Phone Banking campaign and have, along with a few other Ethical Society people, taken the phone banking training with our ROV coordinator, Laura Hembree. The training includes both instruction and hands-on activity and after a few minutes of orientation the trainees were set loose to make calls. I made 28 calls in an hour, had conversations with three voters and left about eight voicemail messages. And it was truly enjoyable.

And now that I’ve been trained, I can go back into the system and start making more calls at my own pace.

2019 – Defending the Right to Vote
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the American Ethical Union, speak to this resolution and stand up for a democracy that protects our values and our constitutional right to cast our vote;
And YOU can join the campaign, too!

Here’s how:

  • Signup for and attend a two hour training and hands-on phone banking session.
  • Make calls

It is that simple. The next training opportunity will be the week of August 23rd. To reserve a spot for the training, respond to this Doodle Poll and we will schedule the training when the largest number of volunteers are available.

Here’s the link:

Looking forward to joining you for the training and hearing your stories about your conversations with voters!

Bart Worden