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Voting Rights and Election Reform

It takes deep faith and a lot of hard work to keep a democracy vibrant. Our Unitarian Universalist (UU) fifth principle commitment to the democratic process and our anti-oppression commitment to strengthen the voices of historically marginalized groups call us to make sure our elections are as inclusive as possible. I applaud and support our congregations’ efforts to register voters and to ensure that the polling process is free of discrimination. 
—Rev. William G. Sinkford, UUA President 2001-2009

One of the fundamental principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is the use of the democratic process. As an expression of our faith, many Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations engage in voter registration and protecting voting rights, not for partisan reasons, but to empower all eligible people to contribute their voices to the democratic process.  

Defending the freedom to vote has been central to the work of the UUA and at the core of Unitarian Universalism for decades—from expanding enfranchisement for women and African Americans to advocating for a path to citizenship for immigrants; from our proud history of civil rights engagement to taking on the New Jim Crow today. As a faith community UUs are vocal and active about voting rights and have made real change happen throughout history.

Take Action on Voter Suppression

On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

This was a huge blow to democracy. People of color, students, people with disabilities, low-income people, immigrants, people with felony convictions, transgender people, people who are homeless, and many others face significant obstacles today in registering to vote and casting ballots.

Over the last few years in 18 states across the country, efforts to suppress the vote have been enacted from passing restrictive voter ID laws and requirements of proof of citizenship, to abolishment of same day voting and early voting, adoption of stringent rules and heavy penalties regarding voter registration drives, and the disfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people. Now is the time to mobilize to defend the freedom to vote.

Voting Rights Organizing Webinar for UUs

Across the country, UUs are mobilizing to defend democracy by stopping voter suppression, advocating for voting rights, and engaging in voter registration and Get Out the Vote efforts. On Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, Susan Leslie, UUA Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director, Jennifer Toth, Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager, and Annette Marquis, UUA LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director, discussed the state of the movement, how we can each plug in and connect our efforts, and what’s on the horizon as we enter mid-term election season.

Find a Partner

UU congregations and organizations are working with partners to protect the vote, register people to vote, and get out the vote!

Get Connected

Get Funding

The UU Funding Program has grants of up to $500 available for UU congregations participating in voter projects.

Theological Grounding and History

Resources

We know that too often people are excluded from this sacred process due to economic and racial bias. Ironically, the right to legislative representation is denied to the residents of the U.S. capitol, Washington, DC. The UUA works to make sure that those who are eligible to vote can do so, and to extend the right to vote to the citizens of the nation's capitol.

We invite you to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and our commitment to voting rights as an issue of economic and racial justice.

For more information contact socialjustice @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, September 12, 2014.

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Over 300 members and friends of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC, gathered on the Supreme Court steps to create a live music flash mob to draw attention to the dire need to strengthen the Voting Rights Act. For All Souls Church Unitarian, this issue is personal. In 1965, All Souls' former minister, Rev. James Reeb, was brutally murdered in Selma, AL, where he was marching in support of equal voting rights. Reeb's death, in part, prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act one week later. On June 25, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that some sections of the Voting Rights Act were outdated and unconstitutional, and that these statutes "punished states for their pasts." Since this ruling, 15 states have passed legislation that restricts voting rights for students, immigrants, the working poor, people of color, and the formerly incarcerated. These laws represent a deliberate attempt to restrict access to the ballot by an establishment that can no longer win elections in which all Americans vote.
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