In a piece for published last week in The Nation, the writer and activist Rebecca Solnit spoke powerfully about the importance of voting as a strategic choice rather than a solemn duty. Writing, “I think of voting as a chess move, not a valentine,” she evoked sentiments that resonated with us here as YP4 staff — that in casting our ballots we cannot invest all our hopes in any one candidate or institution but that through the act of voting, we’re making a deliberate choice of who we want to work with.
Over the past several months, nearly 60 YP4 Civic Engagement and Vote Fellows from the 2015 and 2016 YP4 Fellowship Classes have organized in 24 states to mobilize their communities in today’s local, state, and federal elections.
Our folks have ensured prisoners in Suffolk County, Massachusetts’s pre-trial detention program have access to their absentee ballots. They’ve organized marches through Hattiesburg, Mississippi to the polls, convened conversations with immigrant and refugee communities in Kentucky about civic engagement, supported vote organizing in the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota, and worked with local government to explore pathways which would allow undocumented folks to potentially cast ballots in municipal elections.
In doing so, our folks have organized not only because they know tonight’s electoral outcomes will shape our political landscape for years to come; they organized because they knew that building power — building movements — requires a tangible effort to bring our communities from the margins to the center of our society’s social, political, and economic concerns.
In solidarity with our organizers across the country and holding in our heads and our hearts the urgency of this election to the most vulnerable in our communities, we urge you to make your voices heard today — by voting, if you’re able, and by continuing to build bold, unapologetic movements for liberation.
Your YP4 family is with you come what may, and we are committed to holding space for our communities to not only survive the peaks and valleys of electoral politics but grow a robust, pluralistic democracy which addresses our needs and reflects our dreams for the future.
To echo Solnit’s closing words, “We need to build a road through elections toward justice, to get on that road and never stop.”
In solidarity — today and always,
Alicia, Andrea, Erik, Maryssa, Mike, and Saryn