(WASHINGTON, July 21, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020 election and census administration processes in ways previously unimaginable. In anticipation of forthcoming legislation, Independent Sector and Nonprofit Vote issued the following joint statement:
“Civic engagement gaps among communities served by the nonprofit sector are more apparent now than ever. The imperative to attain an impartial and accurate count in the U.S. census should be a national priority for all sectors. Equivalently, ensuring that Americans can vote safely and securely amidst the coronavirus crisis is not a partisan debate. It’s a constitutional and human right.
The ongoing pandemic has endangered the accessibility of the 2020 elections and Census for constituents nationwide and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on civic participation in underserved communities, which have been affected most. Congress must allocate an additional $3.6 billion to defray the costs associated with implementing the necessary adjustments to ensure polling places remain open and in compliance with public health guidelines during this national emergency. State and local election officials must be equipped with resources to improve the efficiency of our elections systems, minimize lines, and reduce exposure. Such resources include broadband and cybersecurity support, additional machines, healthy staffers, and larger voting spaces. The global pandemic has derailed many initiatives to ensure that everyone in our communities is counted. To prevent a vicious cycle of exclusion for years to come, provisions in the next relief package must include $400 million to increase the emergency budget for the 2020 census, $10 million to further support current surveys, and a delay of statutory deadlines by four months for census reporting of 2020 results.
How does voter and census participation impact the nonprofit sector? The answer is simple. Political candidates and incumbents seek out and engage with communities that have higher voter turnout rates. As a trusted partner to government and constituents, nonprofits serve as a reliable and impartial source to help stakeholders and voters understand the impact that elections have on our daily lives. An accurate 2020 Census is the only way that nonprofits can measure community needs, develop community solutions, target services, and track progress. Historical discrepancies within electoral and census processes are deeply correlated to the many forms of racism in our political system. Emergency funding must be secured to ensure the rights of our nation’s most vulnerable populations are not infringed upon.
Since our inception, nonprofits have served as the bridge between government and community – a role that has ultimately defined America. A 2018 study conducted by Nonprofit VOTE determined that Nonprofit roots and trust within communities provide ample opportunity to increase civic engagement among those who are regularly excluded from the democratic process. Our natural engagement assets and unparalleled reach make us particularly well suited to encourage civic engagement. As the nation’s third largest employer we have the capacity to organize 12.3 million employees and mobilize networks of donors, volunteers, and constituents across 1.5 million organizations.
As we attempt to navigate through these unprecedented times of national uncertainty, we must take immediate action by amplifying our efforts to ensure that those who are eligible are accounted for and can cast their ballot safely. Time is of the essence —submit a letter to your member of Congress to encourage their support for safe elections and a complete 2020 census. Now is the time to get informed, educated and motivated. Please share these vital advocacy resources with your personal and professional networks to inspire sector-wide engagement. Our collective advocacy is our nation’s best defense.”
Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers, nonprofits, foundations, and corporations working to ensure all people in the United States thrive. Learn more at independentsector.org.
Nonprofit VOTE partners with America’s nonprofits to help the people they serve participate and vote. We are the largest source of nonpartisan resources to help nonprofits integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services. Learn more at www.nonprofitvote.org.