We’re entering 2023 inspired by 2022 community voter participation! A strong democracy is centered around community power and voting is key to making our voices heard! Together with phenomenal immigrant- and Native-led partner organizations Empowering Families in Scottsbluff, Centro Hispano in Columbus, Unity in Action in South Sioux City, Native Futures in Alliance, and many other inspiring local leaders from Crete, Lexington, SOMOSgi in Grand Island, and HOPE-Esperanza in North Platte, we reached thousands of rural voters of color in 10 counties across Nebraska during 2022.
Partners all across the state used creative approaches to build energy around voting as a supportive, whole-community activity. Together we talked with hundreds of voters and families at community festivals, youth conferences, and comfortable local settings – playing local offices bingo together to learn about offices on the ballot, exploring history through voter timeline activities, and digging into the voting process with first-time voters. Across Nebraska, partners hosted non-partisan bilingual candidate forums and created non-partisan bilingual voter guides to help communities better understand what would be on the ballot.
“This year we focused on increasing long-term participation. We want to have a community that is not just voting in this election but also becoming more involved in our community and helping others become more involved along the way.” – Karina Perez with Centro Hispano
We celebrated and learned about voter rights history with over 800 middle and high school students from across Nebraska, spoke with hundreds of voters of color to support making their voter plan, and held deeper leadership trainings on the Power of Participation with more than 75 leaders across the state. And our ‘superhero’ voter power mailers reached more than 18,000 rural voters of color with information about the primaries and general election. After a fall 2021 planning retreat, many partners started early in 2022, including first-time voter participation work for the primaries!
“Having conversations with the voters and being able to give them answers to their questions has been such a rewarding experience.” – Rogelio Rodriguez with Unity in Action
Also, in collaboration with a broad coalition of advocates, over 160,000 signatures were collected so Nebraskans could vote to gradually raise Nebraska’s minimum wage to $15 per hour on the general election ballot. The initiative passed with 58% of voters in support! Initiative 433’s passage means that nearly 150,00 Nebraskans will be paid fairer wages!
“We were able to help increase voter participation one voter at a time and those voters will now be able to be advocates for other community members to vote in the future.” – Valeria Rodriguez with Empowering Families
Voting is one of the primary ways to ensure Nebraska has leaders who share our values and speak with us when important decisions must be made. Now, we must continue building our democracy in 2023. Our democracy is strongest when we have a say in the decisions that affect our families and community.