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A new voter protection group has teamed with the Democratic Party to finance year-round staff in the battleground states of Georgia, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas.
Power The Vote will start with six paid positions in Georgia: a director and five deputy regional directors. The group has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars so far, and its launch comes as political parties gear up for the 2022 midterm elections.
The Atlanta-based nonprofit was started by attorneys Jamil Favors and Kim Allen, along with veteran diplomat Jason Lewis-Berry, a former Obama appointee. The trio left top-drawer jobs to do volunteer work in the voting and civil rights arena. They served as deputy voter protection directors at the Democratic Party of Georgia during the 2020 general election and the 2021 runoff. Lewis-Berry also oversaw the state’s Voter Protection Hotline, which received 130,000 calls in seven languages. During last year’s general election, voter protection squads helped 15,000 Georgia voters “cure” their ballots. Curing a ballot means allowing a voter to fix errors on it.
“We saw that because of voter protection, we were able to play a significant role in not only turning Georgia blue but also allowing Georgia to win two Senate seats and allowing Democrats to take control of the Senate,” Favors told Atlanta Civic Circle.
Despite such successes, the three were stunned to learn that most voter protection organizations ended after the elections were done.
“All but four voter protection programs across the United States were disbanded,” said Favors, who grew up in Atlanta. “So we realized year-round voter protection is essential. If you keep people in place to build those relationships across states . . . it allows elections to go smoother when election season comes around.”
The organization’s launch comes at a time when Georgia’s election system has undergone a massive overhaul. Last March, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law SB 202, now known as the Georgia Election Integrity Act of 2021. It is intended to restore confidence in the election process but is seen by many voting-rights experts as a way to impede voting, especially for the elderly, disabled, communities of color and rural areas.
“One of the biggest issues is lack of knowledge,” Favors said. ”SB 202 is a very complicated bill. I’ve read it many times and sometimes I still get confused. So it’s incumbent for individuals who do this work and for voter protection teams to be able to consume that knowledge and get that knowledge out to constituents and voters across the state.”
The nonprofit is backed by voting rights advocates and political heavy hitters in the Democratic party.
U.S. Representatives Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux are honorary co-chairs of the group’s advisory board. Board members include Manny Diaz, chair of the Florida Democratic Party; Adrienne Jones, a voting rights expert and assistant professor of political science at Morehouse College; Michael Kramer, a leading Georgia labor and employment lawyer; Jeremy Smith, co-founder and CEO of Civitech, a Texas-based firm that builds data tools for politicians and causes; and David Worley, former Democratic representative on the Georgia State Election Board and former chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Learn more about Power the Vote here.
Report voter fraud or other election-related problems here.
Call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE
(866 687-8683) for real-time help.
Mark your calendar:
Oct. 22: deadline to request an absentee ballot
Oct. 29: end of early “advanced” voting and last day to use absentee ballot drop boxes
Nov. 2: Election Day
Nov. 30: 2021 general/special election runoff elections
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