Part of the movement for liberation in this country includes fighting for our right to live healthy, full lives. Coronavirus is a pandemic, and fighting for the right to health and wellness is as important as ever.
We’re grateful to everyone demanding paid leave for all, BIPOC leaders organizing mutual aid projects, and people advocating for people incarcerated in jails and prisons across the country. State Voices is following the lead of these incredible organizers, and we’re also updating much of our programs for our collective health and safety.
State Voices is dedicated to supporting our staff during this difficult time, and making it easier for people to take care of themselves and their loved ones. We are grounding all travel, moving to a predominately remote work and virtual office, allowing flex time so people don’t have to use their paid time off and benefits, and shifting to a four day work week.
See the sections below on updates on our events and programs given the pandemic. We also have notes about cool projects we see from others in the movement that you may want to check out. The sections below include: (a) Our National Convening, (b) Our Data Certification Program, (c) Get-Out-The-Count and Census Outreach Guidance, (d) Voting and Voter Registration Updates, (e) Advocacy and Mutual Aid Projects from the Movement.
Our National Convening
Our National Convening, which originally was set to take place in Milwaukee in May, will be postponed until further notice.
Once COVID-19 is contained, we will reach back out to you about rescheduling. We’re looking forward to being able to get together as a network and broader movement again.
Our Data Certification Program
Our Data Certification Program Onsite Training, scheduled March 23 – March 27 in Detroit, MI has been canceled due to the impact of COVID-19. State Voices will host a virtual training for partners starting in mid-to-late April.
Additional details will be provided soon. Our staff will contact partners who have already purchased flights and hotels for further guidance. Please reach out to [email protected] with any questions. We’re committed to ensuring organizers, especially BIPOC organizers, have the tools and resources they need for data and digital organizing.
Get Out the Count for the 2020 Census
Before the pandemic, much of the field strategies of State Tables involved canvassing, hosting events, and creating census kiosks to help community members with questions about the census. We also recently released a Census Day of Action Toolkit with guidance on how to throw a block party or other events on April 1 to encourage our neighbors to be counted. But the pandemic changes things!
State Voices is strongly discouraging any big gatherings until further notice. In partnership with Leadership Conference and the Census Counts coalition, we’ve created updated GOTC guidance for how we can ensure an accurate census count in this time of social distancing. This is a living document and will be updated regularly.
Voting, Voter Registration, and More
Because of COVID-19, states are weighing their options for holding primary elections. Georgia and Louisiana have postponed their primaries, and other states may follow suit. Sudden changes in polling times, dates, and locations can contribute to lower voter turnout and discouragement. We understand the need to make sure our elections can continue in a healthy and safe way, and ensure that extensions and policy changes are implemented equitably.
In Georgia, the primary has been moved from March 24 to May 19. ProGeorgia, the State Table in Georgia, has called on the state to increase the time to request and return vote by mail ballots, work with election officials to protect and educate voters and poll workers, offer flexible methods for collecting ballots, and extend voter registration opportunities and options. The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, the State Table in Louisiana, have called for similar voting options while sharing mutual aid resouces on their website. We must make sure changes to elections are inclusive so everyone can make their voices heard.
In partnership with other organizations, we run Election Protection (EP) programs in states to answer voter questions and respond to election problems. State EP coalitions are adopting creative solutions like having volunteers monitor sites for closures and issues from their cars and promoting an online form so voters can report any issues or concerns they have while they’re at polling places.
Further, the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, where voters can call with issues or concerns, will now be answered by remote volunteers. State Voices is partnering with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Common Cause to have a virtual command center for discussing and addressing escalated issues.
Advocacy and Mutual Aid Projects from the Movement
Many organizers across the country are doing work to support incarcerated people. Jails and prisons are already unsafe, but with a pandemic, cages could be breeding grounds for the virus. Instead of putting incarcerated people in solitary confinement and limiting visits in order to deal with social distancing, prisons and jails should release incarcerated people. Many organizers inside and outside cages are pushing for this, as well as fighting to make sure prisoners have access to resources and can report any incidents that may occur.
Do you need mutual aid, or are you interested in supporting a mutual aid project happening in your neighborhood? Check out this collection of mutual aid projects happening across the country to help make sure we’re all supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. It contains information on why mutual aid is significant and also has a state-by-state breakdown of the different projects happening.
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Outbreaks of COVID-19 around the world, including in the U.S., have also come with a significant uptick in racism and xenophobia. We are affirming our commitment to our values of treating all people with dignity and respect, and continuing our efforts to fight all forms of racism and xenophobia.
We will continue to fight for a healthy democracy that reflects the needs of the people.
— Alexis Anderson-Reed, Chief Executive Officer
— Jordan N. DeLoach, Director of Communications