Five Kinds of Access

When we talk about access to the polls, we often talk solely about people’s literal ability to get to their polling place and cast a ballot. In many places, this kind of access is curtailed due to transportation and infrastructure, mobility, language, and work and family schedules, to name a few factors. However, this kind of literal access is just the beginning of what “access” means when it comes to moving a potential voter from registration to action.

A diagram illustrating the five types of access: access to information; the mechanics of voting; engagement; in-language resources; and protection of voting rights. Campaign Strategist Taz Ahmed explains there are five key types of access that AAPI voters need in order to be motivated and engaged with the electoral system. Our conversation made me think about ways in which VoterVOX and 18MR are positioned well to address not just the mechanics of helping our communities cast their ballots, but also these crucial other areas that mean folks feel included and empowered.

VoterVOX volunteers connect voters to facts about their local community’s elections. They’re provided with nonpartisan materials to explain issues, candidates, and offices to voters.

Access to mechanics of voting

VoterVOX allows limited English proficient voters participate by streamlining the process of voting by mail and finding translation services.

Access to engagement

VoterVOX creates a one-to-one connection between a community volunteer and a voter, personalizing the process and building relationships for deeper community engagement.

Access to in-language resources

VoterVOX’s platform provides volunteer translators with dictionaries of technical terms you might only use for translating ballots, as well as example ballots provided by previous translators, for creating robust and accurate in-language resources.

Access to protection of voting rights

By empowering individuals to participate in democracy, we’re sending the clear message that AAPIs care about our right to vote. VoterVOX builds the power we need to advocate for real voting rights protections from the ground up.

So What?

Our work has the potential to address not just access to the mechanics of voting, but these other forms of access as well. In many ways, these five forms of access working together yield more than the sum of their parts. This is what’s most exciting to me about the potential of VoterVOX as a voter outreach and empowerment effort: getting out the vote, in this framework, can mean more than just getting people to the polls. Voting can become a building block of real grassroots power.