Democracy is one of the core principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). As an expression of our values, many UU congregations are participating in the #UUtheVote movement through voter registration, election reform, protecting voting rights, and Get-Out-the-Vote drives.
#UUtheVote is a decentralized, large-scale campaign. At UUCF, we have organized our effort around seizing the opportunity that the current election cycle offers us to fight for our values, counter voter suppression, expand democracy, maximize voter turnout, and engage in spiritually grounded, values-based conversations with other voters and potential voters.
Who at UUCF is involved and how can I participate?
In spring 2020, approximately ten UUCF members met via Zoom to begin organizing ourselves and identify possible activities we might engage in. Because of UUCF’s non-profit tax status, we cannot (as a group) endorse a particular candidate or party or engage in any partisan activity. (As individuals, that is certainly ok.) After a recent Friendly Forum on the topic of #UUtheVote, more people have joined our ranks. For information on participating in upcoming meetings and events, please contact co-chairs Dick Roblin () or Betsy Bainbridge ().
What projects are being worked on?
The group wants to spend time on efforts that might make the most impact. We wish to learn how to speak with people about personal values and the relationship of those values to the current political context. And we wish to reach potential voters and encourage registration which would, hopefully, lead them to vote.
Vote Forward (votefwd.org) is a national campaign that targets traditionally under-represented registered voters that are unlikely to move soon and unlikely to vote. Vote Forward sends you the names and addresses of 5 or 20 people at a time, and you add your personal appeal to their letter by hand. UUCF #UUtheVote identified specific states that we felt would most benefit from our participation in Vote Forward. As of June 12, voters’ names and addresses were still available from Vote Forward in Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas.
UUCF UU the Vote participants are writing these letters on their own, providing postage, and will mail the letters in late October. This is an opportunity to think about and express succinctly why you put such value in voting. The following is the format and text of a Vote Forward letter:
Dear [you add the person’s name],
I’m writing to you today to urge you to vote and to share my story with you. I vote in every election because [you fill in your personal message].
There’s a critically important election coming up on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Will you please join me as a voter? I’m not asking you to support specific candidates, only to vote, so our representatives are accountable to us all.
[you add your name]
Three Counties in Pennsylvania
Identified as a key swing state in the November election, Pennsylvania was deemed a good opportunity to have impact. Three counties were chosen based on the likelihood of identifying people who are under-represented voters, identification of promising partners we could work with (i.e., other UU congregations and the local League of Women Voters), and proximity to UUCF.
- Erie County, PA
Partnerships with other groups in the area plus a variety of sources of public information have helped us identify groups of under-represented voters and a pool of unregistered voters. To join this effort please contact Dick Roblin at or Brian Anderson at .
- Northampton County, PA
Contact has been established with the Social Action Committee of the UU Church of the Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem, and plans are being made to coordinate efforts beginning with a Zoom meeting. If you would like to know more or participate in this partnership, please contact Tom Barratt () or Marilou Barratt ().
- Adams County, PA
Gettysburg - only 36 miles from Frederick - is located in Adams County as well as several other small towns with significant numbers of under-represented voters. Gettysburg College and Lutheran Theological Seminary as well as 7 high schools with 1133 seniors this past school year in Adams County are sources of potential under-represented voters. Possible partners include the UU congregation in Gettysburg and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. Please contact Betsy Bainbridge at if you would like to work on this project.
Frederick County, MD initiatives
We have formed working relationships with numerous groups active in promoting voting in the Frederick County Area. To discuss your interests and what is needed, please contact Betsy Bainbridge at .
How do I get started?
To join our efforts, you can contact Vote Forward (votefwd.org) to begin writing letters, contact the leads of the various projects noted above to determine how you could get involved, or attend one of our training sessions or meetings. Upcoming group activities include:
- Zoom meeting on Saturday, June 20, at 2pm. Contact Betsy Bainbridge () for login information.
- Sunday, June 21, Deep Canvassing Training II with Steve Buckingham at 2:30 pm via Zoom. Contact for login information.
- Subcommittee meetings focused on Partnerships and Messaging meet occasionally. For updated meeting and contact information, email Betsy Bainbridge at .
- Board of Elections Voter Registration Training: available Mondays and Fridays, takes less than an hour. If we have 10 more participants, they can send someone to UUCF. (Contact: George Caroll, 301-252-4960, )
- Literacy Council of Frederick County - in the process of developing a voter registration outreach. (Contact: UUCF member Diana Pitcher, )
- "When We All Vote" Frederick County Vote Squads: conduct frequent voter registration campaigns in each of the five council districts of Frederick County with a focus on youth, minority populations, new residents, change of address voters, and voters changing party registrations. (Contact: Richard "Kap" Kaplowitz: 240-409-3156, )
- Steve & Patricia Einhorn (): "trained voter registrars" for those wanting more info on the training--and willing to host a letter writing party at UUCF.
(The short link to this page is frederickuu.org/uuthevote.)