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In 2019, Make the Road PA, alongside a host of other groups, fought hard to pass Act 77, a law that increased access to mail-in and absentee ballots and altered other election provisions that made it easier to vote. Since then, and especially since the 2020 election, we have been engaged in efforts to protect the increased voting access of Act 77 and ward off other policies seeking to limit voting rights. This has included voter ID bills, bills that would make it harder to vote in a secure, convenient, and accessible manner and that would place barriers and additional burdens on parents, seniors, students, and election workers, and attempts by lawmakers to gain access to private voter information fueled by false claims of voter fraud. In response to the latter we joined lawsuits by the ACLU to prevent the release of voter information and won.
We have also faced issues with language access at polling sites and with election materials and continue to work with election directors at the county level to resolve these issues. We will also work with election directors to ensure recruitment of poll workers involves cultural awareness and that there is intentional recruitment from Black, Indegenious Communities of Color.
Election defense work also looks like talking with our members and voters as many of these policies, even if they do not pass, can have a chilling effect on and confuse voters about what the current policies are. We will be doing member focus groups around messaging about voter id and why it is bad for our communities, and we will launch a canvass program to educate voters about voter id. Additionally, our Political Education Committee will serve as a space to train members to be trusted messengers in the community to talk about and engage others around these issues and bring people into our organization. Through these efforts, we will continue to defend hard fought voting rights victories and push for policies that increase our community’s access to the ability to vote.