Mar 15, 2019
Grassroots Spotlight - Shabd, Let NY Vote
Grassroots Leader Spotlights highlight the work of activist leaders across the country who are doing meaningful and innovative work to strengthen their communities. To read more about other leaders, scroll to the bottom of this article to browse profiles from around the country.
Meet Shabd of Let NY Vote (March 2019)
Can you tell us a bit about your group? What is Let NY Vote's mission?
Let NY Vote is a nonpartisan, statewide coalition of grassroots networks, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, re-entry communities, good government groups, unions, social service providers, immigrant rights groups, and everyday citizens fighting to modernize New York's elections. Our goal is to (and we're doing it!) pass simple solutions to improve our elections and make registering and voting more accessible and equitable for every eligible New Yorker.
Great! What is your role at Let NY Vote?
Director of Organizing. I'm also a Grassroots Co-founder. I serve as the liaison between members of the grassroots, the established organizations that we work with, and individual, concerned citizens. My role is to distill complex information from the experts in the organizations who have been working on this for decades into clear educational information, toolkits, trainings, and action items so the grassroots can get directly involved in making change on the state level.
Any recent successes you’d like to share?
There are so many! Well for starters, we passed the first set of progressive voting rights legislation in over 100 years, since women's suffrage. Things already signed into law include early voting, portable registration, pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, and having one consolidated primary day. Early voting is huge. We fought hard for early voting - not because it expands or increases voter turnout -- it's not necessarily proven to do either of those things -- but because it makes voting more equitable. The people who can't get off of work on a Tuesday are the ones who are already underrepresented and left out the conversation. By adding in early voting we're able to make it possible for these folks to have their voices heard.
That's fantastic! You should be so proud.
I am! And beyond that, a couple of weeks ago the New York Board of Elections sued New York City to keep translators out of polling places. This was the Friday before the election. Well, between Friday at 4 pm and Monday at 9 am we were able to rally; fill the court room, and ultimately their injunction was refused. Translators were able to be in the polling places on Tuesday.
Word is you're experiencing wins by the week. Is this true?
We just got the Voter Friendly Ballot Act passed! It isn't even up on our website yet. And a less tangible win, to me, is that this whole coalition came together somewhat organically over the past few years, and we didn't have capacity to do proper organizing before. Since I came on full time last December we've really been able to strengthen the grassroots network, all of whom organize their own events and do their own work and are taking control of things on the local level around the state. This is a truly grassroots-owned-and-driven coalition. I'm really proud of that.
Upcoming events? Ways people can get involved with Let NY Vote?
Head to our website, letnyvote.org. We change our take action page regularly. For people who want to get more involved, there are tons of grassroots toolkits and everything anyone could need to do outreach to reps, press, or the public. That's all accessible to our grassroots organizers on a private page, and anyone is welcome to come on as a grassroots organizer to access that. Also, join the statewide or regional google groups, or join our regular Tuesday calls and trainings. If you want to get involved at that level, email email@example.com.
Anyone you’re looking to connect with?
Yes! Let NY Vote grew out of and has thrived because of grassroots coordination and support. We're always looking for people who want to volunteer on statewide work and on campaigns. Anyone who wants to do design; communications; writing; help with overseeing lobbying efforts; organizing efforts. We're also always looking for people who want to phone bank and text bank. Finally, local chapters are still in the process of forming. We're looking for people to join a local chapter or start one of their own. Folks can also check out our events page to plug to at local events.
Want to learn more? Read other profiles!
Meet Sara from Downtown Women for Change (Feb 2019)