In the 2020 election, the clergy of VOICE and their colleagues call on public officials to ensure that every vote counts and to encourage a safe election.
As religious leaders affiliated with VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement), we represent different faith traditions, but we are united in our strong belief that true freedom of religion is directly tied to the freedom of a people to elect their own government leaders without fear, unnecessary hardship, or intimidation. We also stand united in our belief that every person counts, every single person is unique, precious, and loved, and, therefore, every vote must count as well.
We are writing to urge all Oklahomans, regardless of your party affiliation, to vote in the November 3 election. We also write in support of the thousands of poll workers, election officials and postal service employees whose efforts will make election day possible. And we urge local election officials and state legislators to do everything within their power to make sure every vote is counted, no matter what happens.
As faith leaders, we have a direct connection to the lives and concerns of our congregants. Unfortunately, as we approach the critical date of November 3rd, the primary emotion we are encountering among our congregants is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing loved ones to COVID, fear of lost jobs, lost health care, lost day care, lost housing, lost legal rights, and fear of a chaotic, uncertain election outcome. Sadly, instead of reassuring voters that the Nov. 3 election will follow the strictest protocols of safety, security, and fairness, some in our nation’s highest positions of power have undermined voter confidence by suggesting that the elections may be “stolen” due to widespread fraud somehow tied to voting by mail. Such statements are based not in truth but in fearmongering and intimidation. We call on Oklahoma’s leaders – from the governor down to members of every county election board – to not endorse such misleading alarmism but to recommit to ensuring that every eligible vote (including every absentee ballot that is received by the election board by the deadline and properly certified) will be counted. We call on election officials and on law enforcement to ensure that no self-appointed “poll watchers” will be allowed to intimate voters during early voting or on Nov. 3. And, again, we call on every single eligible voter in Oklahoma to do their sacred duty as a citizen and as a caring member of the community – vote.
Finally, for those who may be experiencing a sense of dread, anxiety, or helplessness in these days leading up to the election (and, potentially, for some time afterward, if results are unclear or contested), we want to remind you that it is at trying times like this that the values of faith and community become most evident and most essential. At all times, but especially now, we encourage you to find ways to contribute to the well-being of others, to find grounding and peace through service. This isn’t a time to go it alone, but to seek out communities of caring. Because this, too, shall pass, and together, in faith and in love, we will make it through.