Election Day 2017— Winning like our lives depend on it. Because they do…

#VOTEPROCHOICE in every election Nov 7, 2017 in 33 Stat

Heidi L. Sieck, CEO/co-Founder, and Jenn Shaw, Volunteer Coordinator, #VOTEPROCHOICE at Womens Convention 2017, Cobo Center, Detroit

Last weekend, I gathered in Detroit with a few members of the nationwide #VOTEPROCHOICE Team to attend the Women’s Convention in Detroit. Much like the transformation of Detroit, we witnessed powerful transformative plenary sessions and real, raw, personal accounts from all types of women, men, transgender and nonbinary people. They spoke of a complex, perhaps crumbling, system that serves a few and hurts many. Yet there still remains a yearning to heal and grow. The conversations had among with 4000 (mostly) women from across the country addressed emotional approaches to systemic racism and misogyny, as well as practical ways we can collectively protect our rights, our lives, and our families. It was deep. There’s a lot of healing happening. That’s hope to me.

During the convention, #VOTEPROCHOICE led three days of dynamic phone and text banks focused on a singular task — electing #prochoice candidates up and down the ballot in the upcoming 2017 elections. For three days, volunteers contacted over 25,000 voters for candidates willing to step up and put themselves on the ballot for us. They are reproductive rights champions running for school board, city council, mayors and state legislatures in over a dozen states.

Curiously, most of the volunteers at our GOTV bank were brand new to phone or text banking and definitely brand new to the concept of down ballot engagement. Much of our initial training was actually civics education. Or as we like to call it — Repro Rights 101: How Your Uterus is Regulated by Pretty Much Everybody.

The moment we returned home from the Women’s March in January, our mission at #VOTEPROCHOICE has been to election prochoice candidates in every election everywhere. There are elections happening nearly ever week in America. Some are bigger than others. All of them are important. We analyze each election and find local prochoice champions in strategic races where we could make a different for reproductive rights. We prioritize young leaders and women of color who are champions for reproductive freedom and can take out an anti-choice ‘bad guys’ that we’ve grown entirely too accustomed to in politics. You know the kind — the ones who try and take away our right to a safe and legal abortion, birth control, education and health care. Like the Congressman from Iowa who theatrically and horrifically narrated a sonogram during a hearing to ban abortions at just 6 weeks. There’s another dozen in the White House, too, you might have noticed.

Those guys, and yes, they are mostly guys, do not represent their constituents — they represent a vocal minority hellbent on taking away our freedom, autonomy and constitutional rights. Let’s be clear — 7 in 10 American voters believe that women should have access to abortion and support reproductive rights. And yet…yet…we have hundreds of lawmakers at every level of government still pushing bogus legislation to make this a forced birth nation. That’s why #VOTEPROCHOICE exists.

We’ve endorsed over 35 prochoice candidates this year. We began endorsing early — some of our candidates who fought hard battles but ultimately came up short. But, along the way we’ve been texting, tweeting, consulting, and yes canvassing and phone banking to get these candidates to this very moment. November 7, 2017. A year after our collective hope for the future came to a crashing halt.

That’s why, for a second year, we’ve created a comprehensive national #prochoice voter guide. We teamed up with Ballot Ready to help you vote for local candidates who share your prochoice values. We also include endorsements by the NRA and antichoice groups to be clear what who stands where. No more hiding behind rhetoric and Koch money. Lives are stake in every election.

Reproductive freedom is absolutely an issue at every level of government -in every race, everywhere. Like, a city council member who understands the importance of safety ordinances around clinics. Or a school board member advocating for comprehensive, age appropriate, fact based sex ed! These local issues have an enormous impact on your reproductive freedom. If you’re not paying attention when you head to the polls you could inadvertently vote against your own rights.

Thirty-three states have elections on Tuesday. There’s over 45,000 candidates running. Honestly, it’s sometimes really difficult to figure out these local politicians policy positions, even if you do your research.

That’s why we’ve made it so easy to #VOTEPROCHOICE on Tuesday. Simply pop in your address, explore your candidates, set up your ballot, make a plan to vote on Tuesday, and then vote! It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and you’ll be on your way to electing the next prochoice champion where you live.

Let’s send this administration a very clear message — they won’t take our rights away. Check out the #VOTEPROCHOICE voter guide before you head to the polls on November 7. We have all the power we need.

Athena Soules, NY Light Brigade and #VOTEPROCHOICE Partner, with the Women’s Convention attendees.

Heidi L. Sieck

*States with Elections on Nov 7: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, ID, KS, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, OK, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, UT, VA, WA, WY