What is Spread the Vote’s issue focus?
Spread The Vote’s issue focus is ensuring people have government-issued photo ID. Our field staff, volunteers, and partner organizations work across 17 states with clients in need. We obtain all required documentation and cover all costs, including transportation.
Current campaign or project you’d like to highlight: What is something Spread the Vote is currently prioritizing? Can you tell our readers a little about the goals of the campaign/project?
Most states suspend driver’s licenses when the driver has unpaid fines, fees, or court debt. Without a driver’s license, searching for a job is extremely difficult, as 86% of Americans drive to work. With no income to pay off those debts, the interest grows, creating a cycle of debt that is almost impossible to overcome without support. Our Fund 4 Fines was created to help our clients who are returning citizens pay their reinstatement fees, fines, and other unresolved debt so they can get back their licenses, their livelihoods, and their lives.
Tips and lessons: Do you have an “Advocacy Tip” to share or “Lesson Learned” while organizing this or other campaigns? Do you have any general words of wisdom that you’d like to share with other staff engaged in advocacy?
We use our work to uplift complementary work others are doing and we also highlight aspects of our work that tie into current events. Several states have used their current legislative sessions to add ID requirements for absentee ballots where they didn’t exist before. That means there’s a greater need for the day to day work that we do and raises the importance of the issue. At the same time, some state legislatures are also realizing the devastating impact of debt-based driver’s license suspensions. Until such a time as that practice is abolished throughout the country, we’re working on the ground with those impacted by these policies.
Many of our member organizations work with both our Bolder Advocacy initiative on c3/c4 advocacy rules and guidance, and our Justice programs on the importance of the courts and judicial nominations. How has either or both most helped you? How have you worked with either or both?
Our C4, the Project ID Action Fund, is relatively new and it’s reassuring knowing we can utilize Bolder Advocacy as a resource. On the C3 side, we’ve reached out over the years with specific questions and have always received prompt and spot-on help from Bolder Advocacy. We appreciate the full suite of offerings.
Who inspires you?
As an organization, we are inspired by voting and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer (our monthly donor club is named Hamer’s Heroes in her honor). Given what we do, we are also inspired by John Lewis, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, all of whom risked their lives to expand the electorate. We strive to honor their memories every day.