UUJAZ’s strategy and partnerships unite our organizing efforts in Arizona state-wide, and focus us in engaging in values-based conversations in a virtual deep-canvassing model. Our work includes:
1) Supporting ballot initiatives aligned with our values. UUs are at the table for Outlaw Dirty Money, Invest in Ed, and Save Our Schools ballot initiatives, collecting and verifying signatures, serving as petition depots and notories, and pushing our state legislators to allow online signature collection.
2) Engaging candidates for city, county, and state seats based on the issues. The ACLU of AZ Smart Justice campaign leads us in recognizing the power of County Attorney candidates, a race which could see de-carceration by 50%, an end to cash bail, and elimination of private prisons. Equality Arizona raises the voices of LGBTQ+ Arizonans against the constant barrage of bad bills each legislative session, threatening to strip rights and limit protections, and looks to elect a State House and Senate that will affirm all people. During the legislative season, weekly updates from two of our UU policy leaders keep us informed on who in the state house and senate are proposing and voting for the bills we oppose, so we can vote instead for equity and justice. Sunrise Movement pushes candidates to commit to supporting Green New Deal legislation at the city, state, and national level.
3) Creating a UU youth and young adult led social media campaign. We are thrilled to welcome UUs Phoebe Dubisch and Chloe Stevenson-Brown to our team as paid staff, leading fellow youth and young adult UUs in creating an Instagram and Tiktok campaign for #VoteLove.
4) Defending our voting process from suppression and increasing turnout. From demanding a vote by mail ballot for all eligible voters, to partnering with Reclaim Our Vote to text, call, and send postcards, we know that a UU’d vote is one where everyone has a voice.
5) Resourcing historically marginalized communities to thrive. We know that there are endless barriers in place to voter engagement in our Black, indigenous, communities of color, incarcerated folks, disabled, and poor communities, now more than ever. UUs joined and formed Covid-19 Mutual Aid pods from Sedona to Bisbee, including a 5k member mutual aid network in Phoenix moderated by Black Phoenix Organizing Collective. We’re working to de-carcerate via “car”avan protests, calls and petitions, alongside Puente Human Rights Movement and Mass Liberation AZ. We pushed for and won civilian oversight of the Phoenix PD with a coalition of ten grassroots orgs. We supported the Black Mesa community on the Navajo Nation with food and Covid-19 supplies, led by Black Lives Matter Phx Metro, Food Not Bombs, Sunrise Movement, and others.
We collected stimulus checks from UUs to distribute to undocumented folks, and to bond folks out of detention, for Keep Prescott Together, No More Deaths, and the Undocumented Workers Relief Fund. UUs volunteer to transport and feed asylum seekers released from detention with Phoenix Restoration Project, the IRCs Welcome Center, Casa Alitas, the Samaritans, People Helping People, and Fronteras de Christos.
Last but not least, UUs followed Poder in Action in using their voices to their mayors and city council members to spend CARES relief funds to invest in mental health resources, shelter and health services for folks without homes, and not on increased policing. We know that leveraging privlege and redistributing resources means we all have the best chance at making it to the polls and using our voices for change.
North Carolina has a long history of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and harmful policies which disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our state. This year, UUs across North Carolina are mobilizing alongside our partners in justice to fight for fair and safe elections.
With the support of our two major partners, Democracy North Carolina and You Can Vote, the UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina is supporting four regional UU networks (Western NC, Charlotte, Triad/Triangle and East Coast) so that they can have the greatest possible impact this year. Through the generous financial support of the UUA and the UU Funding Program, we are doing deep canvassing, writing postcards, and whatever else it takes to respond to voter suppression and promote our UU values.
Along the way, we are deepening our relationships with our community partners and our fellow UU congregations so that our partnerships remain strong past November.
Especially this year, we are called to be resilient, creative, deeply rooted, and ready for whatever comes our way. Join us. We need all the help we can get.
UU Justice Ohio is recruiting and coordinating UUs in Ohio for voter outreach, education, registration and get-out-the-vote support as part of the larger Oho Voter Rights Coalition and its Nonpartisan Ohio Voter Outreach Committee. UUJO is also recruiting non-UUs for the Voter Outreach Committee through our partners. Major education efforts include Online Community Conversations and we are using social media and phones for voter registration work.
UU’s in Pennsylvania are forming partnerships for voter registration and to counter voter suppression in the Southeast, center, and western part of the state.
On May 9th, MUUSAN launched UU the Vote Maine. We are working with UU the Vote National, the League of Women Voters of Maine, the Poor People’s Campaign and our congregation’s justice partners to gain electoral justice in Maine and contribute to outreach in other key states as well. We are contacting low-propensity voters in historically disenfranchised communities and helping turnout the vote in 2020.
“UU Mass Action organizes and mobilizes UUs in Massachusetts to confront oppression. We have one mission: to create a world where all people are honored and valued. We work from a relationship model that centers the voices and leadership of those who are directly impacted. Our campaigns include Ending Mass Incarceration & Solitary Confinement, Environmental Justice and Action, Economic and Immigrant Justice. Creating systemic change is a crucial component when confronting oppression.
Despite our reputation as a “liberal blue state,” there is little transparency in our legislative process or state level systems. People who are imprisoned in Massachusetts are excluded from the voting process. Economic inequality often makes access to the polls difficult to impossible for many others. Our members understand the barriers to democracy in Massachusetts and also have a strong desire to partner with other states, as well.
Our leadership team includes many outstanding activists and congregations who are leading this effort. Some of the activities include:
o Sending thousands of postcards for specific actions (such as vote by mail, Reclaim Our Vote)
o Outreach to partners in North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine
o Film & discussion events (Including, “Suppressed”)
o Publishing a weekly digest summarizing many opportunities for action and resources
UUTV Wisconsin will work to: develop leadership and organizing skills and capacity for WI UU, grow and deepen the political analysis of WI UUs in collaboration with partner organizations moving local and statewide campaigns and create, move resources in time, talent and treasure to frontline organizing groups and support existing organizing infrastructure across state to leave behind as strengthened state network after election.
Texas UU Justice Ministry is working with organizations like the Industrial Areas foundations groups across the state, the League of Women voters and is actively seeking other partnerships to register, mobilize, and get voters to the polls. We are also working toward mail in voting for all Texans.
I am the staff organizer for the Reeb Project for Voting Rights and Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice. I am helping organize voting rights and ballot access campaigns in some areas of VA, PA and NC that have been especially hard-hit by systemic and systematic voter disenfranchisement.
The Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) is launching plans to organize Get Out the Vote activities in 16 UU congregations throughout Michigan. We will work in partnership with interfaith allies — the United Church of Christ and the National Council of Jewish Women. We have funding commitments and will coordinate with two organizations that are led by people of color. We also are launching outreach to people from LGBTQ communities through other national and local partners. The MUUSJN Board of Directors has made GOTV activities as a priority for 2020. Michigan voters adopted a no reason absentee ballot voting last fall. We will be focusing our work on activities that can be accomplished by our activists from the safety of their own homes. This includes on-line voter registration, on-line requesting to be put on absentee ballot lists, phone banking and use of social media through our congregations and through our partners.
UU Justice Florida is organizing with migrant, environmental, democracy and multi-faith partners for justice in public policy and social change. In 2018 we organized with the Second Chances Coalition to win on Amendment 4 and gain voting rights for people with felony convictions. Now are supporting the Florida Restoration Rights Coalition in their efforts to register all those eligible under Amendment 4 and to raise funds for the Amendment 4 Fines and Fee Campaign. We are partnering with the UU the Vote National Team and all our statewide justice partners to help mobilize UUs in Florida for electoral justice in 2020.
“After the pandemic forced the Maryland General Assembly to adjourn early for the first time since the Civil War, the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland turned its attention to the 2020 elections. In addition to individuals working for candidates of their choosing, we are asking Maryland UUs to join us in promoting democracy through their local congregations and joining our Democracy Task Force to help support and coordinate the work of congregations in registering voters, educating candidates and voters on our issues, and helping people vote.
At the federal level, both of our Senators and all but one of our Representatives are supporting measures to establish voting by mail across the country.
Scientific studies have shown that conducting voter registration, education and turnout activities as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization is more effective in increasing voter turnout than any political campaign can be. Being approached by nonpartisan groups instead of parties or candidates has a significantly higher impact on turnout. There is an important role we can play in encouraging voting by those with the most to lose in the election, and it clearly supplements rather than competes with political campaigns that we might favor.
We are asking UUs to reach out to everyone they know to:
• Find out how they are and what they may need (then connect them with those who can meet their needs)
• Encourage participation in the census
• Emphasize the importance of the upcoming elections to hold our leaders accountable, and
• Ask if they can continue to touch base throughout the pandemic.
UULM-MD is continuing to work with congregations as they organize their own efforts, and we are coordinating with other State Action Networks (SANs) to plan efforts in neighboring states as well.
100% Voting Congregations
UUs often assume that their fellow congregants are just as concerned about elections as they are. That is not the case. We cannot afford to assume that every UU is already registered to vote.
We ask congregations that commit to becoming 100% voting congregations take this commitment seriously. We will help get to a 100% voting congregation by:
UU the Vote NH is partnering with groups like the Granite State Organizing Project so that UUs can register unregistered voters this summer and fall. We are in the process of re-envisioning what this work looks like as we practice social distancing. Expect more from us about this soon!
UU’s in Minnesota & Dakotas, in coalition with nonpartisan pro-democracy partners, will inform, engage, and mobilize voters, as one strategy to create a more just and loving world.