Liberty Hill does not engage in electioneering, but we have always helped make democracy come alive by supporting community organizing. In this election season, many grassroots organizations in low income communities of color are focused on mobilizing voters, and in some cases, lobbying for legislation such as ballot propositions being put to the voters.
Community-customized voter guides are one of the tools our grantee groups bring to Get Out the Vote organizing. A glimpse at this year’s publications shows just how many case-by-case questions there are to be answered about voting. Are you homeless? Do you prefer to read in Hangul (Korean alphabet)? Do you reside in a domestic abuse shelter and need to have your address kept confidential for safety reasons? These are just some of the specialized pieces of information applicable to specialized situations that are answered in community-customized voter guides.
The constituency of Los Angeles Community Action Network (L.A. CAN), based in the Central City East neighborhood of downtown L.A., is made up of very low income and often homeless people. Staff and core members contribute articles and essays to the group’s newspaper, Community Connection. The just-released October/November issue of Community Connection includes a voter guide with information about ballot propositions as well as a link to a website where readers can confirm their polling places and other education resources.
The pre-election push is on at Korean Resource Center (KRC), where more than 100 volunteers have telephoned 21,000 voters in L.A. County in recent weeks. According to Yongho Kim, Civic Participation Coordinator, KRC has added its local voter guide to a general information guide published by the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium. “We'll address the propositions coming up,” says Kim, “and mail the two guides together. They’ll both be available in print and online." Both guides are bilingual.
To create the proposition guide, says Kim, “We have a community process. Representatives of our community organizing groups, one of seniors, another of college students, get together. They’ve been meeting over past two months to go over the various propositions.” The community leaders developed suggestions for some, but not all of the propositions on the November 6 ballot.
Black Women For Wellness has been distributing its 2012 Voter Guide for several weeks now, It's comprehensive, with early-voting information, election day tips (“Be prepared to wait in line”), a rich list of informational links, and even specific information about what to do if you feel you have been wrongfully turned away from the polls (“Don’t leave. Please request to fill out a provisional ballot.”)
There’s a “Props at a Glance” section, with BWW analysis and a summary of each, and even a tear-out “cheat sheet.”
California Calls is an independent alliance of organizations whose anchor groups include Liberty Hill grantee group InnerCity Struggle. Says California Calls, “In 2012, we can do one simple thing to make a powerful statement about what our families and neighbors need: good jobs, well-funded schools, an advanced infrastructure, renowned colleges and universities and safety net programs that take care of our homes and families. We can all vote.” California Calls Voter Guide is focused on proposition info and recommendations, and is cheerfully illustrated and easy to read. It’s available in print and online, in English and in Spanish. Both versions have a simple “quick guide” reference in additional languages.