Yesterday, we held our final Sunday of voter registrations at the Harris County Jail. To date, dozens of volunteers registered hundreds of new eligible voters!
Here's how it all started:
A few months ago, a group of us sat down to map out an ambitious plan to bring the opportunity to register to vote to eligible inmates at the Harris County Jail. The idea initially came about because one of my good friends, Marcus, called me ranting about his recent trip to the Harris county jail for a simple misdemeanor charge, where he was released the very next day. As he lamented his night in jail, the organizer in me was drawn to the fact that he said there were so many people in one place with nothing to do for hours at a time. Voter registration!
I'd already had a conversation with one of my mentors and good friends, Chris Young, about this idea, but it was now time to put the plan into action. I assembled a list of potential partners based on their reach and expertise, then began planning our outreach strategy to the Harris County Sheriff's Department.
Tina Kingshill, Daniel Cohen, Charnelle Thompson, Bobbie Cohen, and Terrance Edmond were among the initial group who helped think through logistics and broad-based planning.
Tina Kingshill is one of my new favorite people! She became the backbone of volunteer management keeping everyone abreast with what's logistics and moving along with the project. Without her, this project wouldn't have been as successful as it was!
Before we knew it, #ProjectOrange was slowly becoming a reality! Additional governmental entities like the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector's office, who handles voter registration in the county, were linked in, and we were moving forward!
For Sunday's later, it's been a huge success.
I'm looking forward to working with our partners in other counties across our state to bring our non-partisan voter registration drive to eligible voters everywhere!
Eventually, we'd like to work with the City of Houston's Re-entry program to provide additional resources like job training, diploma options, and other resources for the temporarily incarcerated and their families.
While we're planning on doing more impactful work around JUSTICE with a capital "J," we hope our pilot serves as a springboard for other organizations doing similar work.
It didn't take a million meetings, or a lot of money, but we've had a HUGE IMPACT! You can, too!
Let us know how we can help, or be part of the awesome work your organization is doing, too.
Durrel Douglas, President/Founder