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The outcome of the 2020 election, on a local, state, and federal level, will undoubtedly have wide-reaching implications for every American. With so much on the line, we have seen ample enthusiasm around the most fundamental democratic activity: voting.
Yet, unfortunately, our country’s widespread momentum around voting faces many threats. Misinformation and disinformation around voting practices are tantamount to widespread voter suppression. Furthermore, with the rules and regulations around voting procedures rapidly changing in the courts on a daily basis, even the most proactive voters can be disqualified by no fault of their own. These forces combine to create an environment with a confused electorate, highlighting a concerted effort to thwart genuine democratic participation and access.
In the face of this dysfunction, a growing number of businesses, companies, and organizations have taken measures into their own hands. Spaces that were traditionally hesitant have begun to encourage company-sanctioned discussions about voting. This cultural shift has ensured that employers provide their employees with accurate and trusted information. In my role as a policy analyst for Ed Farm, I recently led an organization-wide conversation, encouraging all of our employees to make a voting plan and commit to their plan. I’m grateful that through Venture for America, I was able to find this opportunity to work at a mission-aligned organization. I’m grateful to work at an organization like Ed Farm, due to our shared commitment to democracy, access, and equity.
In a similar vein, the movement to give employees Election day off has increased in popularity as well. This year, Ed Farm is one of the many organizations nationwide that has committed to making Election Day a company holiday, in recognition of the challenges that many people will face in an attempt to vote. Such practices have even extended into the public sector. This past week, Birmingham’s very own mayor, Randall Woodfin, declared that Election Day would be officially recognized as a city holiday. The logic suggests that if work and similar commitments prevent people from voting, it is an attack on access and equity.
Last month, I participated in a roundtable discussion with feminist icon and organizer, Gloria Steinem. Throughout this segment, we talked about why voter mobilization is so critical, especially at this juncture. She reminded us that “…the voting booth is one of the few places on Earth where everyone is equal.” When I cast my ballot, my voice is on par with elected officials, celebrities, c-suite executives, and yes, even Gloria Steinem herself. The ballot box is where equity can be guaranteed to all voters, but only if everyone is provided with adequate time and space to do so. When voting is made difficult, inequity is all but certain.
There is an inextricable link between access to the ballot box and equity. Here at Ed Farm, access and equity are our North Star. Since our inception, we have committed to creating a system that promotes equity, where anybody, regardless of their background, has access to the tools to be prepared for the jobs of the future. Through this mission, we are actualizing our mantra to Cultivate Change. There is an appeal to the greater good inherent in this endeavor. A call to action.
We, here at Ed Farm, envision a world where access and equity are paramount. Regardless of one’s political affiliation or background, we hope that you take any steps towards cultivating change in your communities, however, you see fit. Whether it is through voting on or before November 3, participating in community meetings, running for school board, or even helping out a neighbor through an act of kindness. There are many ways to cultivate change. We encourage you to move the needle, challenge the status quo, and uplift others to create a more just environment. When everyone shows up, committed to action and change, that is when change is realized.
Kendall Easley, Policy Analyst: November 3, 2020