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National NOW Times >> Fall 2006 >> Article

NOW Activists Taking Action from Alabama to Idaho

By Melody Drnach
Action Vice President

Kansas NOW activists (left to right) Naomi Durant, Kari Ann Rinker, and Dirk Durant work the booth at the Kansas State Fair.

Photo by Linda Joslin

Kansas NOW activists (left to right) Naomi Durant, Kari Ann Rinker, and Dirk Durant work the booth at the Kansas State Fair.

"When the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee became the first national PAC to endorse Ned Lamont, there was no bandwagon to jump on. In fact, many Beltway politicos thought we had lost our senses, or worse–endorsing a relative unknown against a well-connected 18-year incumbent." Kim Gandy, August 8, 2006

There is no turning back the tide now. Activists energized by the win in Connecticut and the possibility of increasing the number of progressives in Congress are organizing for victories state-by-state, race-after-race. Never afraid to take a stand, fight for an underdog, or lead what may seem to be impossible battles, six NOW state organizations received grants to increase women's political participation and make a difference in this fall's elections by increasing the women's vote.

"There is tremendous energy in the women's movement to change the direction of this country, and with each day our determination grows stronger," said President Kim Gandy. "NOW activists need resources and financial support to make the change that we know is possible."

The projects include a mix of NOW PAC (political action committee) projects and NOW Foundation-funded get-out-the-vote campaigns targeting women voters. The projects funded with PAC funds include a Washington State NOW PAC effort to help Darcy Burner win a seat in Congress in District 8, and to re-elect the state's pro-women members of Congress Rick Larsen (District 2), Brian Baird (District 3), and Jim McDermott (District 7). Activists in Washington will also work to defeat ballot initiatives seeking to require state and local government employees to verify the identity and immigration status of applicants for non-federally mandated public health benefits, and to repeal the funding for the state's education legacy trust fund .

NOW activists in Pennsylvania received a NOW Foundation grant to register single Latina voters in Philadelphia. The Spanish-language campaign will provide information to Latinas highlighting issues of health care, day care, child care, education, social services, and crime in the community. NOW canvassers will concentrate on selected precincts with voter education programs, registration, and mobilization of Latino voters focusing on single Latina voters.

In the closely watched state of Ohio, NOW PAC is funding a workshop on "Ohio Voters' Rights" on September 30. Targeting 200 activists, the training will focus on interpreting the recently passed Ohio legislation addressing voter registration, poll watching, and working at the polls in November. The new law changed nearly every aspect of voting in the state, and this training will prepare motivated activists to ensure rigorous oversight of the voting process and rules in Ohio.

While many in the progressive movement overlook Kansas, NOW leaders in the state marked the winds of change with the "Thank a Feminist, Exercise your Right to Vote" project at the Kansas State Fair. State activists added to the growing feminist mobilization in the state by registering voters and urging them to support candidates who will work for the full range of rights and equality for women.

Another state where progressive voices have an uphill struggle to surface their message is Idaho, where NOW activists have launched a PAC project to defeat a constitutional amendment (HJR 2) that narrowly defines marriage as between a man and a woman. One of our nation's most conservative states, Idaho, is changing as a result of economic and demographic trends in the urban west. NOW activists will encourage people who share progressive values to register and vote, to speak publicly about the importance of fairness, and to fight discrimination against any residents of Idaho.

NOW Activists in Alabama continue along the path to rebuilding the progressive movement in the state with the NOW PAC funded project to "Revitalize the Pro-Choice Movement in Alabama." NOW leaders in the state will travel to the hometowns and districts of the 18 legislators who sponsored legislation to ban abortion in the state. Their aim is to encourage pro-choice residents to register, to vote, and to speak up to protect the women of Alabama. With clear voter registration goals and plans that includes public discussions, film screenings, and building a strong coalition, activists are determined to have an impact on the November elections and to block anti-women legislation.

"With these grants, NOW continues our 40-year fight to increase women's voices and impact on the nation. As the largest feminist grassroots organization in the U.S., NOW activists are fighting for women in every state. We know that until every woman in every state has the full rights and freedoms promised in a democracy, we cannot stop, and we will not be turned back," said Gandy.

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