Democracy Vouchers Are Crucial for Communities of Color


We recently celebrated the 54th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. I remember watching this landmark event with my parents in the home where I now reside. Experiencing this event as a Black family and the conversation that I engaged with my parents led to my commitment to become involved in grassroots action throughout my life to this present time.

Regardless of what political activities I have been involved with, protecting and expanding access to voting is still one of my top concerns. Some of these activities include voter registration in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. I was involved in the efforts to end Apartheid and end trade with South Africa. Later, I was a delegate for both President Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders in 2016.

One of the points made by my parents about the 1963 March on Washington related to voting. Both my parents were born and raised in the South - my father in South Carolina and my mother in Mississippi. My mother's hometown, Forrest, Mississippi, was a small town about 40 miles from Jackson, Mississippi. Most Blacks didn't have the opportunity or possibility to vote.The segregation and racism in the Jim Crow South led to the relocation to Seattle of my parents and many others of my mothers family after WWII.
During the recent past challenges to voting rights and access to elections for Black Americans and other people of color, as well as homeless, incarcerated, recently released individuals, and others in our country is still a current fact which hinders our democracy today.

Seattle's creation of the Democracy Vouchers is an exciting tool for citizens to use to deepen our experience in local political action. The monetary amount may be small by today's political standards, but I believe the Vouchers allow more voters to participate and counter other professional lobbying efforts to some degree. I think that the Vouchers give voters like me, who don't have a PAC or support from an organization back by corporate money, an opportunity to support candidates whom I trust.  
I invite those who are against the Democracy Voucher program to recognize that they can use their Democracy Vouchers for candidates they like (whom I probably would not support) with this program as well. Democracy Vouchers expands the level of direct participation in our Democracy.

Roi-Martin Brown has been a member of Washington CAN for 2 years.