This is the story of “two Nanas” from the Piedmont UU Church in Charlotte who helped win the battle for early Sunday voting.
THE TIES THAT BIND:
Passion, Looming Deadlines, Good Friends, A Just Cause, Persistence, Truth to Power, Knowledge, and Personal Contact in the Time of COVID
In February 2020, a large group of concerned citizens gathered at our local Board of Elections to request Sunday voting be included in our county’s Early Voting Plan. Certain days and hours are mandated: however, including additional Saturdays and Sundays are up to the local board. We overflowed the room, kept turning up until the pandemic closed physical participation and kept moving forward through email and social media.
Fast forward to August 31, 2020. We won our Sundays.
How did it happen?
PASSION from the people.
A LOOMING DEADLINE was a great motivator for friend Nan and I to organize residents to show up at the BOE. There had been repeated requests for Sunday voting for several years but it was never approved. We knew time was of the essence because the local Board had to act on the request before budget requests went to our conservative County Commissioners. Rather than waiting for approval from any organized group we went rogue and became The Two Nanas.
Why did that work?
In addition to a relatable image of terrifying or comforting Nanas, many residents had already realized we needed a more accessible voting plan. Nan and I initially contacted everyone we knew by email and text and then took the fb route with graphic posts and asked all to share. Neither of us were necessarily savvy or media driven. Just passionate and disgusted with the same reasons to not include Sunday. We found many new friends that agreed. And they gave us their emails when we asked. We were suddenly a group that was actively proclaiming, “Why not Sundays?”
These GOOD FRIENDS told other friends, wrote letters to the local paper, wrote emails to the BOE and Commissioners, and spoke at virtual meetings. The local board has never seen so many people or heard so many arguments for a JUST CAUSE that really would make a difference for all voters, regardless of party affiliation.
Then COVID and everything slowed. We kept emailing and posting images to the active Sunday group and through social media to maintain a presence, a reminder, and to keep folks informed and educated.
PERSISTENCE is a virtue, particularly when shared for a common cause. Long story short, we ended up with our county’s decision being made by the NC State Board of Elections.
Before that happened, we kept up our messaging to the state BOE, emailing, and entering comments into the public comment portal. We created a paper trail by sending evidence of our local efforts of documenting how we spoke TRUTH TO POWER. We were thrilled when the NC State Board selected The People’s Plan, the most accessible voting plan presented.
What is the take away?
Make it PERSONAL. We were lucky. So many were ready for action. They just needed a push and a reason and to be kept informed on a regular basis. KNOWLEDGE is power. Education and personal contact may be the key reminder that we can each make a difference in our community and our country.
The Two Nanas, Pam Bloom & Nan Lund