Poor People's Campaign

August 19, 2020

The Poor People’s Campaign is launching a major voter power drive to train thousands of poor and low-income people not merely on voter participation but also on voter protection as the social justice organization prepares for a massive Election Day turnout.

The campaign will hold the Moral Monday on Voter Power at 7 p.m. Eastern on Monday, Sept. 14. It comes on the heels of the release of a report showing that just a small uptick in the number of poor and low-income voters could change the political calculus of this nation.

The co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, will speak during the live, two-hour digital meeting. Other speakers include poor and low-income people, allies, artists and activists who will discuss why voting is power unleashed.

“In the midst of their exacerbated pain from COVID-19 and our government’s inept response, poor and low-income people are preparing not only to vote in massive numbers but also to protect the voting rights of others,” said Rev. Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach in Goldsboro, North Carolina. “They will not be intimidated by any tactics to suppress their votes.”

The training is just one part of the campaign’s program titled “We Must Do MORE: Mobilizing, Organizing, Registering, Educating people for a Movement that Votes.”

Some 140 million poor and low-income people live in this country, and that was before COVID-19.

The campaign’s study of the power of poor and low-income people, released Aug. 11 and conducted by a researcher at Columbia University, shows that these voters could affect the outcome of the presidential race in 15 states and U.S. Senate races in 16 states.

The Poor People’s Campaign is using this study to inform its plans for registering new voters and protecting the right to vote for all.

In addition to training thousands of people in over 40 states to monitor polling places for voting problems during early voting and on Election Day, the campaign will: hold U.S. Senate town halls in eight states; organize students and young people to vote; and register people to vote and to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census, among other actions.

“The attack on democracy and the rise in voter suppression has opened the door for extremist politicians who choose profits and tax-cuts over life before and during this pandemic,” said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. “From health care to housing, welfare to the environment, inaction on the issues that concern poor and low-income people is connected to the erosion of the vote and the indifference of candidates from both parties. But poor and low-income people have the potential to be a transformative new voting bloc this November and for a generation. To make that a reality, we need to join forces across all of the lines that divide us to do more mobilizing, organizing, registering, and educating for a movement that votes.”

U.S. residents have fewer voting rights today than they did after the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. Since 2010, more than 26 states have passed racist voter suppression laws, making it even harder for people of color and poor and low-income people to vote.

Obstacles include fewer polling places in poor communities; identification requirements; felony disenfranchisement and racist gerrymandering and redistricting. Voter protection is imperative if poor and low-income people are to build the power to change policies and elections. Campaign partners in this massive movement to get out the vote and protect the vote include: Forward Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc., the Links Incorporated, the Black Women’s Agenda Inc., the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute, the United Supreme Council of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry-PHA of the Southern Jurisdiction-United States, religious denominations, individual congregations and other national partners.

Contact: Martha Waggoner | [email protected]

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our updated agenda, A Moral Policy Agenda to Heal America: the Poor People’s Jubilee Platform, addresses these issues.