By Julia Howard, Communications & Public Affairs Officer
This month marks 57 years since the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and less than two months ago the Massachusetts legislature passed the VOTES Act. Although both acts have attempted to open pathways to allow more people to vote, we continue to see low voter turnout across the nation, states restricting access to the vote that disproportionately affects low-income communities and voters of color, and disillusionment with government. In Massachusetts too, we have seen a steady decline in voter turnout for local elections in the last few decades, including last year’s historic mayoral election in Boston, where only 29 percent of registered voters participated. This does not represent a vibrant democracy.
This spring at the Boston Foundation (TBF) Annual Campaign for Civic Leadership spring event, President and CEO Lee Pelton sat down (virtually) with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu for a conversation about leadership in Boston. During their conversation, Mayor Wu shared, “I truly believe that the way we get our country and our democracy back on track is to prove that it’s possible at the local level.” This sentiment is something that TBF believes to its core; it drives our work and has been reflected in Our New Pathway. We see voting as instrumental to building a healthy civic life. It is one of the most powerful mechanisms we have to hold leaders accountable for representing community needs, delivering on promises, and maintaining democracy with integrity.
TBF is excited to announce our partnership with TurboVote (a project of Democracy Works), a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that works across the country with businesses, higher education institutes, and nonprofits to modernize the voting process and increase voter accessibility. In partnering with TurboVote, we hope to empower individuals in Greater Boston and beyond to connect their vote to the issues that matter to them and provide them with tools to make the process easier. When individuals visit our TurboVote page they will be able to register to vote, check their voter registration and/or sign up for election alerts. You can visit our TurboVote page to check it out yourself!
This project will evolve over the coming months as we take a multi-tiered approach to voter engagement work; exploring avenues for all Foundation staff to integrate it into their work, using our platform to amplify and inspire other local and national organizations, hosting a forum this fall on the topic, and launching a voter engagement pilot program with some of our nonprofit partners. We will be sharing updates on our social media channels, newsletters, and at events—and hope you will follow along, share and participate. Because when we all vote, we are a stronger, more equitable democracy.