A Toolkit for Voting Rights Advocates

With over 1.7 million members, Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We design strategies and campaigns that help change the written and unwritten rules that affect Black people’s lives and have the greatest potential to advance racial justice.

2020 is a pivotal election year, and it’s also the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which recognized Black men’s right to vote in all states. To mark the occasion, we are offering this toolkit to raise awareness of the current state of voting rights. You can use these tools and resources to learn more and most importantly, to take action. Like our partners at Zinn Education Project, we know that history is made by everyday people working together to make positive change. We invite you to step into this history and do your part to ensure that all kinds of people are fully and fairly represented in this country.

While this toolkit is designed with youth and students in mind, we hope that anyone who cares about protecting and expanding voting rights in the United States will find it helpful to their activism. This country belongs to all of us, and we all have a role to play in making it a safe and just place for us all to live.

Voting is the basis of our representative democracy, yet voting isn’t universally accessible to all eligible voters. In some communities, voting is a relatively quick and simple task, while in others, it can be an hours-long process — if you can vote at all. What is the state of voting rights in your community and state? And what ideas do you have to make it better?

Guiding Questions:

  • What are the different kinds of ways people can vote in 2020?
  • What are some of the barriers, big and small, that can make it harder for some people to vote than others?
  • Are public officials in your community and your state making it easier to vote or harder to vote? And for whom?
  • How can you help overcome and eliminate barriers to voting?

Resources to Learn More About the Current Voting Rights Landscape:

  • The 15th Amendment Turns 150: Here you can find more lessons, articles, and resources from our partners
    at Zinn Education Project as part of our shared campaign to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. Additionally, this summary of ten things you should know about the Voting Rights Act is a helpful overview of the 20th and 21st Century history of voting rights that led us to the current moment.
  • Voting Rights Lab has put together a State Voting Rights Tracker that lets people see existing laws that affect voting rights and accessibility in each state, and tracks the movement of new bills that have an impact on voting rights.
  • Suppressed: The Fight to Vote is a 38-minute documentary that shows what contemporary voter suppression looks like by sharing the experiences of Georgia voters during their 2018 Gubernatorial election.
  • Electionland by ProPublica is a collaborative project led by ProPublica that collects coverage of voting rights issues from newsrooms all over the country.
  • Vox Media also has a voting rights issue hub that helps the public make sense of the current state of voting rights in America.

Tools You Can Use to Take Action:

  • TurboVote is an online tool people can use to access voter registration forms, get election
    reminders, and more. Whether you can vote or not, you can impact our democracy by sharing this link and empowering eligible voters to get registered.
  • Organize For is a platform for Color Of Change activists to start your own campaigns on issues you care about. You can use this tool to start a campaign around a problem you uncover in your voting rights research, or to promote an idea you have for how to improve voting rights and access in your community.
  • YourVoice is a video tool Color Of Change activists can use to create your own campaign videos to raise awareness about issues that matter to you. You can use this tool to create a video in support of your voting rights campaign.

Meme the Vote!

Humor is a great way to raise awareness of important issues like voting rights! How can you use your creativity to spread the word about voting rights? You can use this meme generator or photos of your own to make a meme, and tag your posts with the hashtags #TeachVotingRights, #LearnVotingRights, and #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool to connect with other folks who are learning about, teaching about, and organizing for voting rights.

Don’t Feed the Trolls!

When you go online to learn and share about voting rights (or anything else), you may encounter trolls and bots that try to confuse, bully, and otherwise discourage people from participating in democratic processes like voting. Report, mute and/or block them & move on — don’t respond! Interacting with them wastes your time and energy while strengthening their influence. Use that energy to learn and take action instead.

Support Color of Change

With social, economic, and environmental justice hanging in the balance, we simply refuse to let anti-democratic politicians get away with suppressing the vote. We’re fighting back by targeting digital ads and doing outreach to voters in affected areas to help them get back on the rolls in time to be heard in critical upcoming elections. 
The people and policies we choose at the ballot box impact our daily lives in countless ways, and they determine how easy — or how difficult — it is to organize and win our other fights for justice. If we want to build lasting power in this country, we have to protect our ability to vote for people and policies that are responsive to our needs. It’s critical that we help each other overcome barriers to voting so we can flex our full political power. Please help fund this important work!