Last month, we celebrated Women’s Equality Day on the 100-year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which was the first step toward granting women the right to vote in the United States. This presidential election year, millions of Americans will take to the polls—or to their mailboxes—to exercise this right. According to the United States Elections Project, approximately 43% of eligible voters—or 100 million people—did not actually fill out a ballot in 2016. This year, it’s crucial that we take advantage of the privilege that many women before us fought hard for and did not enjoy until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed.
To encourage our Octopi community to enact change at the local and national levels, SENREVE dreamt up and launched a limited-edition 100% silk Voter Scarf in our newest color, Ballot Pink, just in time for Election Day. 100% of net proceeds of sales from this scarf will go towards supporting I am a voter.®, a nonpartisan movement dedicated to creating a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement*. The unique dandelion print and I am a voter.® mantra make the scarf a symbol of harmony and alliance. We can’t wait to see how you style it—as a bag accessory, wrist tie, or headband—on your way to the polls this year.
We spoke to Mandana Dayani, lawyer, activist, and co-founder of I am a voter.®, about her passion for inspiring this generation to engage in politics. Read on to hear about her experiences leading such a relevant public awareness campaign, and to learn more about why the SENREVE team is voting in November.
What inspired you to launch the I am a voter.® movement?
I am a voter.® was founded by some of the most brilliant women I have ever known. As an immigrant, I have always felt incredibly privileged to be an American, and I was really heartbroken seeing our country so divided the last few years.
After making the decision to just dive in and learn what I could do to help, I quickly saw that there was an opportunity for a modern voting brand that really spoke to our generation. One that was positive, empowering, and more focused on what unites us. A brand that really captured how cool it is to be an active participant and maybe made you feel a little FOMO if you weren’t. And I knew that if I could get these incredibly talented and inspiring women together in a room, we could build a meaningful message and leverage our relationships and skills to create true impact.
After doing lots of research, I learned that identity was an important predictor of voter turnout, which is where the name came from. And once we partnered with CAA, they were able to provide us with the tools, infrastructure, and support we needed to really get this off the ground.
As an activist and leader of a major public awareness campaign, what is the biggest challenge you face?
There is so much work to do. So many issues to advocate for--there is this feeling that you're never doing enough.
Empowerment is a brand pillar here at SENREVE and also lies at the core of the I am a voter.™ movement. Why is it particularly important for women to exercise their right to vote?
Women fought for the right to vote and gained that right 100 years ago. Understanding that empowers the women who founded this organization and empowers women across the country to exercise that right.
How does your role as a female founder bring power to I am a voter.™?
Women are incredible. We craft and execute change--so when you see that I am a voter.® is led by a group of incredible women, that brings power to the initiative. No doubt. Women get things done.
There’s a misconception that “my vote won’t count” — why do you think that is, and what message do you have for the individuals who think that way?
It comes down to educating yourself and understanding what is on the ballot. Becoming civically engaged immediately dispels that false narrative.
What are ways people can participate in civic engagement in their community? Why is it important for people to be active players?
One of the most important things we can do is ensure our friends and family members vote! A reminder from a friend can make them up to two times more likely to vote! We are each a part of a community and we have a responsibility (and privilege) to check in on each other. I also think it is important to share registration deadlines and election reminders with your social communities and make sure your company gives you sufficient time off to vote if that is prohibitive for you. Lastly, I would suggest you go to iamavoter.com to check whether your state allows no-excuse vote by mail, and if it doesn’t, to call congress and advocate for it!! Scripts are provided.
It can be difficult to find reliable information during the election process. What resources do you recommend to learn more about political candidates, policy goals, and local government initiatives? Where can individuals find resources to learn about the various political candidates? Is there a trusted source where people can go to learn about their policy goals and mission?
Right now, it feels like my entire life is based around the election. I am just so grateful for the resources our organization is able to provide to our communities and partners and that we can always leverage our partners at TurboVote/Democracy Works whenever we have questions! I also make sure to watch Jessica Yellin’s videos on Instagram every day to stay current on all important issues.
With less than 50 days before Election Day, we asked our U.S. team to share what motivates them to vote. We hope their answers inspire you to double check your registration and to safely cast your ballot, too. Remember to register to vote in time if you haven’t already—the deadline is 30 days before Election Day in several states! From there, you can request a mail-in absentee ballot, though some states only allow it under certain circumstances. If you’d prefer to vote in-person, check this list to see if you can do so during a voting period earlier than November 3rd.
Coral, Co-Founder & CEO: “I think it's critical to appreciate that we have the right to vote and never take that for granted. Women's ability to participate is essential and hard fought. I was reminded by our team recently that women of color only recently fully secured the right to vote, with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is so important to recognize that women of past decades have fought hard for this right, and I feel strongly about honoring them as well as doing my part to have a voice in the future, especially for my daughter.”
Nicci, Social Media: “I’m voting with my daughter in mind. For the future of her freedom and her continued right to voice her own opinions as she grows older.”
Elise, Chief of Staff: “I am voting in honor of the women who fought for our right to vote. Voting is the most important way to make our voices heard and influence change in our country. ”
Jill, Growth Marketing: “My dad immigrated to the U.S. when he was in his early 30s from a country without as many democratic processes, and he takes pride in voting every year at every election. When I was younger, I voted solely because of his encouragement. Now, I vote not only because of the hardships my parents faced to bring us here, but because I want to play my part in enacting positive change for future generations.”
Merry, Intern: “This will be my first time voting in a presidential election. While voting is just one of many ways to push for change, there couldn’t be a more important time to have a say in who will serve as the face of our nation, make lifelong political position appointments, and choose which issues to prioritize. Being eligible to vote is a privilege, so I’m voting for the people who cannot, many of whose rights and lives will be impacted greatly by the administration’s policy decisions in the next four years and beyond.”
How will you be voting this election year, if you can? What motivates you to vote? Leave a comment below—we’d love to hear about how you’ll be exercising your right to vote this year.
*100% of net online proceeds from sales of the Voter Scarf will be donated to I am a voter.®
** Photos courtesy of I am a voter.® and SENREVE.