In America, the fitting to vote is meant to be sacred. And the power to solid a vote to your candidate — free from interference or intimidation — is a part of the fabric of our country. But, since our nation’s founding, there have been numerous boundaries stopping Black People from exercising their rights. Sadly, the 2020 election is shaping as much as be no completely different.
The passing of civil rights legends C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis are stark reminders of the battles fought and the sacrifices made to make sure that nobody is denied the fitting to vote. Together with numerous others, they marched, bled, and died to push America to reside as much as the beliefs in its founding paperwork. Whereas their efforts led to monumental change, there are nonetheless far too many Black People who can not freely train these rights.
At the moment, as we mark National Black Voter Day, we should bear in mind and honor each one who sacrificed a lot on this struggle. And all of us have a duty to select up the mantle and do every part we are able to to take away boundaries to voting. At Lyft, Black People drive with us and are among the many communities we serve, in order an organization, we share in that duty. And this yr, we’ve already began to behave.
For many years, tens of millions of Black People needed to face the indignity of legal guidelines being enacted and selections made with out their voice being heard. Ballot taxes, grandfather clauses, counting the variety of jelly beans in a jar, and different types of voter suppression met the Black community at each flip.
That suppression lives on in new however equally dangerous kinds. Systemic boundaries to voting are actual and pervasive, whether or not they’re voter ID legal guidelines, lengthy traces at majority Black polling areas, disinformation campaigns, the purging of voter rolls, or impediments to voting safely throughout a pandemic. Any barrier to voting is at odds with our very democracy.
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In 2016, we all know that voter suppression legal guidelines value People their voices on the polls. States that have been as soon as ruled by the Voting Rights Act handed legal guidelines to limit voting rights and voter entry. A number of states with vital Black and Latino populations closed polling locations in these particular communities. Alongside systemic points, transportation to the polls continues to be a major barrier.
In the course of the 2018 U.S. election, Lyft supported lots of of thousands of people with voter registration and rides to the polls. This yr, because of our almost 20 nonprofit companions we’re capable of increase our Voting Access program efforts and provide much more voters with entry to free rides to the polls.
In his final phrases earlier than his loss of life in July, Congressman John Lewis wrote, “Bizarre individuals with extraordinary imaginative and prescient can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I name good hassle, crucial hassle. Voting and taking part within the democratic course of are key. The vote is probably the most highly effective nonviolent change agent you could have in a democratic society. You need to use it as a result of it’s not assured. You’ll be able to lose it.”
Each American deserves the fitting to decide on their very own future and it begins on the poll field. Whether or not by masks or mail, we’re all a part of this democracy — particularly these of us who come from traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised communities. So, make your voting plan. Discuss to your pals, household and neighbors and determine how you’ll vote whether early, day of, or via the mail. And should you’re voting in particular person, know that Lyft is working to assist get you and your neighborhood the place that you must be.
There are solely 46 days left till the presidential election. The power for each American, no matter politics, to take part within the nation’s most sacred democratic obligation is simply too essential for transportation to be a deterrence.
Heather Foster is the Senior Director of Public Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at Lyft, the place she leads the technique, planning and engagement of elected officers and third get together stakeholders. Heather is an issue skilled on race and public coverage, having labored intently with civil rights teams and organizations targeted on fairness, financial mobility, and transportation. Heather served within the Obama administration as White Home Public Engagement Advisor and served as a direct liaison to African American leaders navigating advanced points on race and coverage.