UU the Vote & MUUSJA

Background and Overview

UU the Vote is a non-partisan faith initiative to engage our neighbors, educate our communities, mobilize voters, and rally around key ballot initiatives. It was launched by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in January 2020. From the new UU the Vote https://www.uua.org/liberty/electionreform

One of the fundamental principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is the use of the democratic process. As an expression of our faith, many Unitarian Universalist congregations engage in voter registration, election reform, protecting voting rights and democracy, and Get-Out-the-Vote drives

Defending the right to vote has been central to the work of the UUA and at the core of Unitarian Universalism for decades—from expanding enfranchisement for women and Black people to advocating for a path to citizenship for immigrants; from our history of civil rights engagement to taking on the ‘New Jim Crow’ and white supremacy today. As a faith community UUs are vocal and active about voting rights and have contributed to change throughout history. In the past several years, UUs have been part of a groundswell of voting rights, electoral work, and democracy movements that have emerged and gained even more momentum since the 2016 US elections.

In 2018, UUs worked with partners who share our values to urge elected officials and candidates to work for a Green New Deal, to decriminalize poverty, defend the rights of LGBTQ people, fight for reproductive justice, and end migrant detention and deportation and mass incarceration. We canvassed, gathered signatures, phone banked, registered people and got out the vote for justice oriented ballot initiatives. We shared our values with our neighbors and asked them to participate in democracy.

The UUA is supporting UU congregations, organizations, and individuals in a major effort for democracy and support of electoral justice in the 2020 elections. Electoral Justice is a term and practice developed by the Movement for Black Lives. We have analysis, partners, resources and funding for you.


MUUSJA Coordination

The Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA) is the state action network that coordinates various projects with the UUA. Its intention with regard to UU the Vote is threefold:

  1. MUUSJA will create a network of UU clergy and lay leaders across Minnesota, the Dakotas, and western Wisconsin who can train congregation volunteers in the use of traditional communication tools (phone calls, text messages, emails, letters) to identify and engage others about the upcoming election and urge them to vote.
  2. Some volunteers will contact voters (using phone banks or written communication) in areas experiencing obstacles to voting, including precincts with a higher density of younger BIPOC voters (Black/Indigenous/People of Color).
  3. MUUSJA will provide consultation, resources, and training for longer-term organizing, allowing volunteers to learn new skills and to connect with a national UU faith-based effort aligned with our commitment to inclusion, equality, justice, and respect for all persons.

Karen Wills, the MUUSJA executive director, hopes to hire a part-time director for UU the Vote soon. Karen is working closely with Ashley Horan, the organizing strategy director for UU the Vote at the national level and former executive director of MUUSJA, and Nicole Pressley, the UUA national organizer.

MUUSJA has set up bi-weekly Zoom calls with volunteers in UU congregations in Minnesota and the surrounding area. These calls will continue throughout August, September, and October.

MUUSJA has applied for a $10,000 Get Out the Vote Grant from the UUA for its UU the Vote activities. The WBUUC Board has written in support of the application. Part of the grant funds would go to hire a MUUSJA UU the Vote Coordinator. Funds could also be passed along to individual congregations. Individual congregations are also eligible to apply for a grant from the UUA for up to $500. Information about congregational grants can be found https://www.uuthevote.org/the-uu-the-vote-mini-grant-guide/


Partnering Organizations

On election issues, MUUSJA is working closely with other local organizations like the local nonpartisan nonprofit Minnesota Voice, which is led by and focuses on young BIPOC voters. MN Voice says on its website

Minnesota Voice is a member-based coalition of non-profit organizations founded in 2014 working toward permanent change in racial, social, and economic justice by increasing civic engagement and voter participation across the state, especially focused in underrepresented communities; making sure that every Minnesotans’ voice is heard, and the state reflects the values of its people. https://mnvoice.org/

MUUSJA is also working with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, which uses similar strategies to reach voters interested in climate change https://mnipl.org/

WBUUC Involvement

Susan Miles and Jane Bacon are coordinating efforts on behalf of White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church. Any member interested in helping the effort or just learning more are welcome to contact them. In this age of Coronavirus, volunteers will be able to work from home.

Nonpartisan Action

UU the Vote is a grassroots campaign to activate thousands of UUs in 2020 to mobilize voters, counter voter suppression, and engage in spiritually grounded, values-based issue conversations with voters in their communities. It is totally nonpartisan and gifts to UU the Vote and MUUSJA are tax-deductible as charitable contributions.

More Information

See the WBUUC’s page Vote 2020

Be Inspired

You may want to listen more than once to this inspirational and enjoyable virtual performance of the song We Shall Be Known