As Election Day approaches in the US, these five people from around the country are committed to protecting our democracy and getting out the vote in their communities for the sake of our planet.
Robert Pilot, St. Paul, Minnesota:
Why are you getting out the vote? I believe that it is so important to get out the vote to empower our Native people. We are voting for our future. If we’re not at the table, we need to pull up a folding chair.
Why does this election matter to the climate crisis? We need to protect Mother Earth and father Sky. Believing in the Green New Deal fits nicely in our Native way of thinking. We need to vote and have our voices heard.
Why do Black, Indigenous, and people of color’s votes matter? Our votes matter because we’re still here. Native votes are powerful.
What work are you doing with 350.org to get out the vote? I have a radio show called “Rock The Vote Native Style” that is supported by MN350. We have ways to engage our people in this election and regularly invite guest speakers onto the show.
Emma Shapiro-Weiss, Peterborough, New Hampshire:
Why are you getting out the vote? I’m here on the ground in New Hampshire trying to make sure that everyone here has the tools they need to vote and contribute to making our state and country better for everyone. With all the previous challenges we were facing in New Hampshire from youth voter suppression to gerrymandering, we now have a global pandemic creating huge voting obstacles ahead of arguably the most important election of our lifetimes. Every single person needs to be getting out the vote.
Why does this election matter to the climate crisis? We are already seeing and feeling the effects of the climate crisis. We need a government that will take the bold steps we need to stop the crisis. This kind of leadership will have huge impacts on this crisis and our lives.
Why do Black, Indigenous, and people of color’s (BIPOC) votes matter? BIPOC votes have been consistently suppressed in this country. This intentional effort to keep key voter blocks from having an equal say in our electoral process has a history linked to the foundation of this country. All people in this country have a right to vote.
What work are you doing with 350.org to get out the vote? I work at 350NH, a local affiliate of 350.org. We are calling, dropping lit and texting banking to make our state and country a better place. We’re working with 350.org to make sure New Hampshire voters know how to vote, where to vote and any other guidance they might need. We need local and national partnership like this to make sure every voter and every potential new voter gets contacted.
Amy Gray, Colorado Springs, Colorado, on occupied Ute, Cheyenne & Arapaho territory:
Why are you getting out the vote? I am getting out the vote this election because the consequences of this election for BIPOC communities are enormous and the communities hit first and worst by the climate crisis are also the first to be hit by voter suppression. It is imperative that everyone get out to vote this year.
Why does this election matter to the climate crisis? This election matters to the climate crisis because we have so little time to stop the worst effects of climate change, especially for frontline communities, and to save our planet. Colorado has become a petro state and millions of our residents are affected by the oil and gas industry.
What work are you doing with 350.org to get out the vote? 350 Colorado is working in partnership with 350.org and the Environmental Voter Project. We are reaching voters in Colorado by textbanking 35,000 voters per week in the lead up to the election. We are phone banking each week with five of our teams to call voters in Colorado and other states to get out the vote. We are phone banking three times this week and from Oct 28th to Nov 3rd.
Sydney Mayer, Seattle, Washington:
Why are you getting out the vote? Voting is an American right. This year, we are faced with a fundamental test, and we must fight to make sure everyone’s vote is counted rather than allowing people’s voices to be silenced by voter suppression. I am getting out the vote because this is OUR democracy and it’s imperative that we use our votes to keep it that way. I also want to acknowledge that voting is a (very essential) component of the greater picture that is our democracy. We must organize, then vote, then organize!
Why does this election matter to the climate crisis? We’re facing the most pivotal moment in our climate’s history. As a young person, I am absolutely terrified of what the future has in store if we don’t make an immediate systemic change. There is a way to protect our earth so it’s habitable for future generations while creating jobs and boosting the economy. It’s a matter of acting NOW. We need all leaders to prioritize climate justice. I am confident that ensuring leadership that prioritizes climate justice is one of the most significant things we can do during this climate crisis.
Why do you think it’s important that youth get out the vote? This is the world we’re inheriting, and young people know it. I’m confident that my peers will show up this year and make out voices heard by casting ballots and organizing to combat systemic racial, economic and environmental inequities. I’m proud to say that I’m part of a generation that is not afraid to speak out and fight for justice.
What work are you doing with 350.org to get out the vote? I’m working with 350 to organize and lead weekly phone banks at my high school. I founded a voter engagement club at my school, and we have made calls, sent hundreds of postcards, and printed and distributed hundreds of “voter registration” stickers. I am so appreciative of 350.org’s support, they truly have given me and my peers the resources to enact change in our community.
Dominique Thomas, Harlem, New York:
Why are you getting the vote out? I want to ensure that everyone who wishes to engage in election season has the opportunity to do so without fear of intimidation or retaliation. I do this work to protect our democracy. For me, this is more than voting — we are protecting the vote and those protesting in the face of injustice, and ensuring our freedom and collective healing.
Why does this election matter to the climate crisis? This election is very important given that the same groups who are most affected by climate disasters, COVID-19 and have the most heinous histories of voter suppression are BIPOC communities. To fight the climate crisis we must fight to protect democracy. Both struggles involve the tactics necessary to build power in the lead-up to elections to protect votes and fight voter suppression.
Why do Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) votes matter? Ella Baker once said “Oppressed people, whatever their level of formal education, have the ability to understand and interpret the world around them, to see the world for what it is, and move to transform it.” BIPOC communities are skilled at transforming the world outside of systems of oppression with our votes and through our ability to movement-build and build people-powered movements. We hold elected officials accountable, we strategize in campaigns and we use direct action to uplift our demands in a fight for justice.
What work are you doing with 350.org to get out the vote? I currently work on the Climate Vote Team where I have been working on recruitment of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, get out the vote phone banking, and identifying spokespeople for this work. It’s nice to interact with people who are a part of our base that I do not have the opportunity to work with as well as to create opportunities for people to develop their leadership skills.