The first thing you notice when you walk into Malika Redmond’s office is a gold sequined pillow on her loveseat that reads ‘Coffee and Books and Social Justice.’ As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Women Engaged, Malika has been advocating for women professionally for 20 years…And why social justice is as much a part of her day as a cup of joe.
Founded in 2014, Women Engaged inspires women and youth of color to become leaders and decision-makers through public policy and social transformation. One of Women Engaged’s signature programs WE Vote, WE Rise, is an initiative with a proven record of increasing voter participation. WE Vote, WE Rise works primarily in communities of color in Atlanta, as well as the cities of East Point and College Park. Thus far, the program has increased voter participation of their contacts to 62% – twice the national average. A system that works but needs your help.
We spoke with seasoned advocate Malika about what volunteers can do before, during, and after the upcoming elections. If it’s up to her, no voice will be left out of the democratic process here in Atlanta.
Tell us about Women Engaged.
WE Vote, WE Rise is a community based, get-out-the-vote program. We focus on reaching out to folks who are new and low-propensity voters in their mid-20’s to early 40’s living primarily in Southwest Atlanta, East Point, and College Park. Through WE Vote, WE Rise, volunteers engage community members in civics education, including informing them of roles and responsibilities of positions they are electing while also making sure potential voters feel confident. We talk to folks about why it is important to vote in every election, every year. Many people believe that voting once during a national election means they are truly participating, but there are local elections every year. These are the local officials in charge of our city budgets, public safety, and education system. If we are not participating in deciding who has responsibility for Atlanta then services will be done to us, not for us.
Before Election Day
Atlanta has so many seats up for election right now. We want to make sure that the City of Atlanta turns out to vote! WE Vote, WE Rise has volunteers who phone bank and knock on doors to make sure people are aware of all the races, their polling location, and their voter registration status. This approach is highly effective, last year we surpassed our voter registration goal and in this election cycle we have knocked on 775 doors and held 842 phone conversations thus far. But we need more volunteers to come get trained and hit the phones or streets in support of our mission. If any elections end up in a runoff, which is certainly possible, volunteers will continue this work until the final elections.
On Election Day
WE Vote, WE Rise organizes and executes election protection activities on election days. Our volunteers make sure the elections run with timeliness and integrity. We start at 7:00 am to make sure polls are open and booths are functioning; we serve through the day to make sure voters aren’t being harassed at the polls and candidate campaigns are at an appropriate and legal distance away from polling locations. We always need people to come out in shifts on election day to monitor polls; it ensures our elections are fair and free.
After Voting on Election Day
WE Vote, WE Rise does post-election surveys. We ask people about their experience after they are finished casting their vote. We want to know if people felt like they were able to vote fairly. Collecting that data is important to ensure we are being as effective as possible. Volunteers are always welcome and needed in the post-election process.
No matter how you decide to help, all of these volunteering opportunities are very important. This kind of work allows us to be better advocates on behalf of voting rights in the State of Georgia. To volunteer with Women Engaged before, during or after the upcoming elections please call us at (404) 474-2900, or email us your resume at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about our work like us on Facebook and go to our website.
Photos are property of Women Engaged.