JULY 29, 2022
Thank you for reading NLIHC’s Our Homes, Our Votes newsletter. We are glad to have you as a partner in our NLIHC-led Our Homes, Our Votes nonpartisan candidate and voter engagement project. This newsletter will provide you with the latest news and updates related to voter engagement around affordable housing advocacy. You will receive national updates, access to resources, and information about events and what is happening on the ground.
Please note that the newsletter will move from a biweekly to a monthly schedule for the summer. Look out for the next edition during the week of August 22!
Recaps of Recent Our Homes, Our Votes: 2022 Webinars
Getting Candidates on the Record on Housing and Homelessness (July 25)
Too often, affordable homes are left out of the public debate leading up to elections. To elevate housing solutions on the national agenda, candidates for elected office must understand that the issue of affordable housing is important to voters. The most recent Our Homes, Our Votes webinar explored the most common methods to get candidates to discuss housing solutions on the record – including candidate questionnaires, forums, and town hall meetings – and the importance of nonpartisanship in nonprofit organizations’ candidate interactions. The discussion also featured creative ideas for social media and conventional media engagement with candidates. Lisa Chapman, director of public policy at Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH), presented on MCAH’s electronic candidate questionnaires and other methods of engaging with candidates for local, state, and federal office. Israel Bayer, director of International Network of Street Papers North America, discussed innovative strategies to engage with local media, get candidates to speak up about housing, and empower individuals with lived experience to spotlight housing and homelessness as election issues. The webinar recording can be found here and the presentation slides can be found here.
Tenant Associations and Election Engagement (July 11)
Tenant and resident leaders play a pivotal role in mobilizing their communities to vote. This webinar, which took place on July 11, addressed ideas for developing messaging that builds trust and generates enthusiasm about participating in the political process, ways to ensure that low-income renters have the resources and information they need to vote, and methods for organizing residents to become leaders in their own communities’ election engagement efforts. Abby Ng, policy and communications coordinator at Tenants & Neighbors, and Genesis Aquino, executive director at Tenants & Neighbors, shared their strategies for targeting registered voters who have not historically voted in primary elections and creating opportunities for tenants to engage directly with candidates. Sarah Saadian, senior vice president for public policy and field organizing at NLIHC, provided an update on provisions to increase civic engagement among HUD tenants included in the U.S. House of Representatives’ proposed FY23 spending bill. Sidney Betancourt, housing advocacy organizer at NLIHC, shared information about the upcoming edition of Tenant Talk magazine, which will focus on voter and candidate engagement. The webinar recording can be found here and the presentation slides can be found here.
The Role of Housing Providers in Registering and Mobilizing Voters (June 27)
Many owners and operators of affordable housing are committed to supporting resident civic engagement. This webinar, which took place on June 27, explored how housing providers can make it easier for their residents to register and vote. Andrew Foley, associate director of development at Jonathan Rose Companies, and Gregory Ford, director of program development and implementation at Beacon Communities, discussed their organizations’ voter registration and mobilization efforts. The webinar also featured a special presentation on the nonpartisan Civic Holidays from Gretchen Coleman, partner support specialist at Vote Early Day. The webinar recording can be found here and the presentation slides can be found here.
Register for August 8 Our Homes, Our Votes Webinar: Voter Education: The When, Where, What, Why, and How
The Our Homes, Our Votes: 2022 webinar series features experts with frontline election experience to walk through every step of voter and candidate engagement activities and support housing organizations’ nonpartisan election efforts. The next webinar, “Voter Education: The When, Where, What, Why, and How,” will be held on Monday, August 8, at 2:30 pm ET. Register for the webinar series here.
Registered voters need information to exercise their rights with confidence. A successful voter education campaign should ensure that voters have the logistical details they need to show up at the polls or vote by mail. The webinar will cover best practices for educating voters about polling locations, mail-in voting, ID requirements, provisional ballots, navigating new voting procedures, and knowing their voting rights. Panelists will also discuss opportunities to educate voters on the candidates’ policy positions and what to expect on their ballots. The panel will feature Cristin Langworthy, community engagement and government relations coordinator at the Housing Network of Rhode Island; Santra Denis, executive director of the Miami Workers Center; and Owen Hutchinson, director of external relations at the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness.
Native American Voting Rights
Native Americans have faced barriers to political participation for generations – from registering to vote to ensuring their votes are counted. The Native American Voting Rights Coalition, a project of the Native American Rights Fund, is comprised of national and regional grassroots organizations, academics, and attorneys who work to protect voting rights and foster voter engagement in Native communities nationwide. They provide a variety of resources for advocates, including tribal leaders’ guides, flyers and factsheets, Native language voting resources, and some state-specific Native voting guides. The Coalition also focuses on ensuring fair redistricting in Native communities and has created several toolkits to empower more Native people to participate in the process.
The Coalition released a report, Obstacles at Every Turn: Barriers to Political Participation Faced by Native American Voters, which details the obstacles Native people face in registering to vote, casting votes, and having votes counted. The report was the result of nine public hearings where more than 120 witnesses from dozens of tribes testified. Since the report was originally published in 2020, the Coalition has released two updates with additional testimony. The report recommends the following actions to eradicate barriers to political participation for Native Americans:
Congress must pass the Native American Voting Rights Act, or its component pieces in other legislation.
States and state officials should ensure election activities for Native Americans are equitably funded and establish Native American task forces.
Local election officials should consult with tribes regarding locations of polling places and recruiting poll workers.
Tribes should encourage their members to participate in state and federal elections.
Tribal citizens should register and vote.
Concerned citizens and activists should reach out to their elected officials and Secretary of State to raise these issues.
The Native American Voting Rights Coalition hopes the report will help raise awareness about these obstacles with policymakers, decision-makers, and Native people themselves. The Coalition offers many tools to help advocates share the report and findings, including sample social media posts, hashtags, graphics, quotes, article drafts, and more.
Voting Rights Lab released a report, “The State of State Election Law: 2022 Mid-Year Review,” that highlights state election laws enacted between January and June 2022 that will affect voter access and election administration. The report found that 20 states have enacted 49 bills that will improve voter access or election administration, 17 states have enacted 25 bills that will restrict access or interfere with election administration, and 22 states have enacted 43 bills with mixed or unclear impact on elections. Positive trends include the expansion of early voting and voting rights restoration for citizens with past felony convictions. Negative trends include the adoption of more burdensome voter identification laws, new restrictions on community assistance with requesting or returning mail-in ballots, and legislation that increases the risk of wrongful voter purges. While some states have significantly improved access to mail-in balloting, other states have severely restricted it. The report highlights how new legislation affected voters in recent primary elections and the implications of this legislation for upcoming primaries. Read the full report here.
From the Our Homes, Our Votes Field
Colorado Advocates Engage Voters at Pride Parade
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), Colorado’s premier statewide disability advocacy organization and an Our Homes, Our Votes affiliate, participated in the 2022 parade for Denver’s Pride Fest on June 26. The parade was put together by the local LGBTQIA+ Resource Center, Center on Colfax. The local ABC 7 News Channel reported that 100,000 people attended the parade.
Lacey Stein, CCDC’s communications and training director, worked with a team of volunteers and other staffers to create a float that would represent the important crossover between Pride and voting. CCDC’s float was accessible for its members, volunteers, and clients with disabilities, and for those who used both manual and automatic wheelchairs. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, allies, and people from all socioeconomic backgrounds joined the float. CCDC initially planned to pass out paper handouts at the parade but ultimately decided to create voting and Pride merchandise instead, which was all distributed before the end of the parade. The float flew both the Disability Pride flag and the traditional LQBTQ Pride flag. Colorado Governor Jared Polis even stopped by to take pictures with CCDC’s float and crew.
In Case You Missed It (ICYMI)…
Nonprofit VOTE hosted a webinar, “Staying Nonpartisan During Voter Engagement,” that discussed the range of acceptable nonpartisan activities and IRS guidance around tax-exempt voter engagement. The recording and resources can be found here.
The National Disability Rights Network, the REV UP Voting Campaign at the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities co-hosted a two-day virtual event, “Disability Vote Summit: Breaking Down Barriers to the Ballot.” The summit addressed methods for ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to our democracy. The recording of Day One can be found here and the recording of Day Two can be found here.
Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, an NLIHC state partner, hosted a webinar on voter education. The webinar discussed key information for Michigan’s 2022 primary and general elections, as well as broader strategies for getting voters registered and prepared to vote. The recording can be found here.
Nonprofit VOTE will host a webinar, “Volunteering for Democracy,” on Wednesday, August 10, at 2 pm ET. The webinar will discuss how nonprofit organizations can embrace policies and programs that encourage staff, clients, and supporters to participate in election-related volunteer opportunities. Register for the webinar here.
National Voter Registration Day, National Voter Education Week, Vote Early Day, and Election Hero Day will host a webinar, “Celebrating the Civic Holidays on Social Media,” on Thursday, August 18, at 2 pm ET. Guest speakers from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat will share strategies for successfully leveraging each social network to celebrate democracy. Registration for the webinar can be found here.
Nonprofit VOTE will host a webinar, “What’s On the Ballot? Nonpartisan Voter Guides,” on Wednesday, August 24, at 2 pm ET. This webinar will cover how nonprofit organizations can find and evaluate nonpartisan voter guides, provide sample resources, and share voter education strategies for the 2022 general election. Register for the webinar here.
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