‘Carrying Forward the Work’: UU the Vote Grows into a Democracy Movement

‘Carrying Forward the Work’: UU the Vote Grows into a Democracy Movement

Since launching in early 2020—a year before the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol—a maturing UU the Vote is focusing on more than elections.

Jeff Milchen
Group of UUs standing outside holding signs
© Caroline Gutman


In January 2020, the violent attempt to seize the presidency and overturn our national election was a full year away. Yet many people within the Unitarian Universalist Association already were deeply concerned by attacks on democracy being waged by state legislatures and authoritarian politicians.

The UUA’s response was to launch UU the Vote, a nonpartisan initiative inviting UUs to work on broadening participation in democracy while elevating UU justice priorities nationally.

In 2020, UU the Vote reached more than 3 million potential voters, working right through the pivotal runoff races for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats and playing a key role. In 2022, it added programs like Good Trouble Congregations, uniting UUs for collective action in ways the pandemic precluded in 2020. It also supported successful ballot question campaigns, including defeating proposed abortion bans, securing reproductive freedom, and advancing voting rights.

But in each of its first two campaigns, financial limits meant the work halted when federal elections concluded, leaving the next campaign to relaunch without continuity and limiting proactive “off-year” work.

For 2024, the UUA’s Organizing Strategy Team has hired Nora Rasman, who served as the Side With Love campaign manager from 2014–2018, as a full-time UU the Vote democracy strategist.

Election-year mobilization will continue, but permanent staffing will transform UU the Vote by enabling work to advance voting rights, build on state ballot initiative victories, and proactively shape the options from which voters choose.

Rev. Erin Walter directs the Texas UU Justice Ministry, which has worked to fend off reactionary bills and actions by the legislature and governor that attack the humanity of LGBTQIA+ people, undermine voting rights, and more.

"This work is year in, year out," Walter says. "We are proud to do it and consider it a spiritual practice, but it also takes a toll. Support from partners like UU the Vote and collaboration with our fellow UUs is life-giving. It’s crucial to our ability to win in 2024 and for the long haul."

UU the Vote Collaborates with UU State Action Networks

While much of UU the Vote’s work focused on key "swing state" elections in its first two campaigns, expanding support to activists facing down far-right legislatures and blazing new trails with pro-justice initiatives are in the works for 2024.

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News and Resources: uuthevote.org

Webinar Launch: UU the Vote 2024

At least twenty-three states enacted forty-seven laws making it easier to vote in 2023, vastly outnumbering new restrictive laws. These democracy-enhancing reforms include automatic voter registration, increased early voting, nonpartisan redistricting, and Election Day registration.

Nicole Pressley, director of the UUA’s Organizing Strategy Team as of March 1, expressed excitement about UU the Vote’s growth and noted the transformation comes thanks to generous contributions by thousands of individual UUs who recognize the urgency of this work. "Faith movements are so powerful in democracy work," Pressley said. "We are carrying forward the work of people, communities, and movements decades in the making."