Democracy in unprecedented times – an election perspective

Erika Anthony (CBB 2014, CLI 2010)
Co-founder and Adviser, Cleveland VOTES

Cleveland Votes is a nonpartisan democracy building and mobilization entity that aims to strengthen civic muscle and power to ensure we have a more informed, participatory, and cohesive community. You can read their full Post Election Reflection


What are three things you are excited about with the upcoming election?
The illustration of creative ingenuity and equitable civic engagement that has been infused in our respective communities around getting out the vote. We are excited about the displays of resilience, tenacity and collective power and strategy that has permeated our country and specifically our ongoing work here in Ohio as it relates to what true democracy looks like. We are most excited about the intentional and thoughtful ways people have come together pre-election to share voice and get out the vote. We look at this upcoming election as a testament to what we know is possible — true democracy upheld by the people.

What are three things that make you nervous?
Misinformation and distortion of the truth, voter suppression at the polls, and all its many layers as we are a nuanced and diverse population with many perspectives and experiences. What also makes us nervous is the maintenance and upholding of our democracy, and our communities’ belief in our democracy, as we have experienced its fragility through this election cycle and much of 2020. We know the patience required to await final results can take 10 days or more, leaving us with a November 18th timeline. Knowing this provides a level of discomfort and worry that we hope our communities are prepared for mentally and emotionally as we await the results.


With the election over, what’s going to be Cleveland Votes focus?
Democracy is hard work and as stated above, “civic engagement must be understood as a constant, sustained practice that outlives election cycles and stretches beyond voting or formal channels for citizen input”. What are some immediate action items today? Some of these immediate actions may include participating in the programs provided by the Informative Action Committee and celebrating justice and victory with Shooting w/o Bullets’ In Our DNA campaign.

As you reflect on your hard work, what accomplishment are most proud of?
This year, the Cleveland VOTES team engaged countless national, state and local partners, residents, and volunteers via our collective efforts to activate for the 2020 Census, Primary Election, and 2020 General Election. This collective power has catalyzed a resurgence of energy towards owning our power.