Voters Not Politicians was very intentional in our community outreach in 2022, particularly during the circulation phase of our successful Proposal 2 campaign to protect voting rights. Regional Organizers sought out spaces like Pride festivals, Juneteenth celebrations, and other cultural events where our volunteers could reach a broader demographic of Michigan voters. Many volunteers who participated in these opportunities found them particularly rewarding, both for VNP and for themselves.
For example, Karen O. (Ottawa County, Region 2) attended the Muskegon Pride festival for the first time because she “love(s) the greater diversity” she can experience at events like this. And Cheryl H. (Wayne County, Region 6) circulated at a Pride parade in Detroit, her first experience at a Pride event, and “felt great joy… It was very welcoming.”
Gail Q. (Wayne County, Region 6) decided to circulate at a local Juneteenth event, a new experience for her, specifically because of “the historical nature of Juneteenth and the significance Prop 2 had relative to maintaining our democracy.”
Cameron L. (Kalamazoo County, Region 2) had attended several Pride events in the past, and shared this insight on why he chose to circulate at Kalamazoo Pride Festival 2022 and PrideFest 2022 in Benton Harbor:
I think it’s true to say that members of the various communities frequenting Pride events tend, on the whole, to be more politically engaged and supportive of pro-democracy efforts. Pride events are a unique opportunity for these communities to concentrate in one place, and thus a great opportunity for getting signatures or raising awareness.
From these events, volunteers recognized both a benefit and a need for Voters Not Politicians to engage with Michiganders in diverse spaces. Karen O. sees “a convergence of shared goals and vision” in Voters Not Politicians’s pro-democracy mission and the “social justice activism often present in marginalized-community movements.” At Muskegon Pride, she found attendees were more welcoming and receptive to hearing from circulators, and noted that many of the conversations focused on the need for a “healthy pluralistic and egalitarian democratic society that protects the rights of those on the margins,” including voting rights.
As Gail Q. observes, it really is both necessary and beneficial for the mission of Voters Not Politicians to be present and engage with diverse communities at events like these. “It supports the mission of envisioning a truly representative democracy, where the will of the voters drives government decision-making and public policy.”