In 2019, The American Ethical Union added to its long-time commitment to voting rights with a resolution–Defending the Right to Vote–that condemned voter suppression, opposed partisan and racial gerrymandering, supported extended early voting, and recommended other means to assure fair and free elections. Putting that commitment into action, during the summer and fall of 2020, the AEU Ethical Action Committee coordinated participation across the AEU in the Center for Common Ground’s Reclaim Our Vote campaign. This project’s overwhelming success in involving Society members from across our Movement in a common social action is cause for celebration and may serve as a model for organizing similar initiatives in the future.
On May 12, 2020, the AEU Ethical Action Committee hosted a Zoom Salon entitled “Saving Our Democracy by Voting” as part of its Activism at a Distance program. Participant Ellen McBride of NYSEC described her Society’s positive experience writing postcards for the Reclaim Our Vote campaign, which seeks to “empower under-represented voters to fully participate in elections.” Salon participants expressed interest in learning more about this opportunity, and this was facilitated by the organizers of NYSEC’s program.
Within a month, 18 Ethical Societies had volunteered to join the Reclaim Our Vote postcard outreach campaign to send handwritten postcards to individuals at risk of disenfranchisement. The AEU Office coordinated these efforts by ordering postcards from Reclaim Our Vote and distributing them to Society representatives along with mailing lists, postcard-writing scripts, and other resources in early June. As part of the AEU initiative, Society members wrote, addressed and sent over 23,600 postcards in English and in Spanish to voters in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, and Florida. In addition, NYSEC members independently sent out over 20,000 postcards. Following the postcard writing campaign, numerous Society members participated in person-to-person calls to encourage voter engagement.
The AEU would like to thank the NYSEC members who helped initiate the project and all the members from the following Societies who participated in this nationwide ethical action:
Baltimore Ethical Society
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Ethical Culture Society of Silicon Valley
Ethical Culture Society of Westchester
Ethical Humanist Society of Asheville
Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle
Ethical Society of Austin
Ethical Society of Essex County
Ethical Society of Mid Rivers
Ethical Society of Northern Westchester
Ethical Society of St. Louis
New York Society for Ethical Culture
Northern Virginia Ethical Society
Philadelphia Ethical Society
Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture
Susquehanna Valley Ethical Society
Washington Ethical Society
The Reclaim The Vote effort was coordinated by AEU staff (Bart Worden, Executive Director, and Law’nence Miller, Director of Administration).
As recent events have made clear the right to vote and participate in fair elections is still under attack in the US, and it is up to all of us to defend our democratic freedoms. Keep an eye out for another Salon devoted to this issue in Spring of 2021!