This fall Washington State voters will make decisions that are critical to the environment and racial and economic justice. On May 26th, Front and Centered leaders gathered to share best practices and advance collaboration on voter engagement in communities of color.
Front and Centered Steering Committee Member De’Sean Quinn pointed to both national efforts and local efforts to marginalize voters of color and identified key opportunities for improvement, including better data, collective visioning, and creating support to overcome barriers in the voting process. His goal for communities of color working together over the long-term took an early step forward at the event.
In both electing public officials and voting on ballot initiatives in November, communities of color will play a pivotal role in shaping outcomes. Washington Community Action Network’s Political Director Mauricio Ayon laid out statistics that demonstrated this is increasingly true at the local level. A handful to a few hundred voters have made the difference in recent gubernatorial, legislative and municipal contests, and will likely continue to do so.
Member organizations, like the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Washington Community Action Network, Hilltop Urban Gardens, and and more, have been developing strategies to ensure that voters of color are engaged proportionate to our steadily growing numbers. The groups present are working statewide where people of color live, from Whatcom to Pierce County, from central Washington to south King County and elsewhere.
At the Roundtable, Rebecca Saldaña Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage, facilitated participants in mapping out voter and civic engagement strategies and tactics that may form the basis of more advanced collaboration. Member experts, Monica Ng with Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), and Peter Bloch Garcia, Executive Director of Latino Community Fund, trained participants on understanding the roles that not-for-profit organizations with C3 and C4 legal status can play in voter engagement.
The Roundtable concluded with a commit by Front and Centered members to collaborate on voter engagement to advance the power of communities of color and environmental justice Washington State.