VoteRiders Staff Spotlight: Nick Ramos
Written by: Erin Carden
After finishing four years on the Mayor of Milwaukee’s staff, Nick knew he wanted to re-engage with voter protection work, a field he was involved in five years prior as a law student during the 2016 presidential election. As a coalition coordinator with VoteRiders, Nick would have the opportunity to run his own enterprise of community organizing, coalition building, and ID acquisition, a perfect harmony between the work of his past and a future he hoped for.
Nick is a lawyer, advocate, and organizer from Cleveland, Ohio, who likes to keep his space tidy, loves 75-degree weather, and hates stubbing his toe. He is charismatic, silly, and original. If he could live anywhere in the world he would live in his home city because, well, “no one else says that.”
Through collaborating with over 130 Wisconsin-based organizations and organizing creative ways to connect with voters who may need support obtaining ID, Nick is determined to build VoteRiders’ strongest coalition.
When he is not cultivating partnerships, organizing campaigns, or working with voters, Nick can be found playing Call of Duty with friends, rooting for the Cleveland Cavaliers, or watching psychological thrillers. Growing up, his favorite TV show was The West Wing, a late 90s political drama that inspired him to think of all citizens as having a leading role in democracy. Raised by a single mother who accessed the generous support of public servants and her community’s social services, Nick was galvanized at a very young age to do whatever he could to give back to his community.
“If those services and those selfless public servants that helped us, didn’t exist, my life could have been drastically different,” Nick said.
As an undergraduate student at Miami University, Nick served as his fraternity’s Community Service Chair where he organized and participated in projects to help low-income families in his community. Years later, as a law student at Marquette University, Nick provided over 50 hours of pro bono legal services by working with individuals living below the poverty line, earning him a spot in Marquette’s Pro Bono Honor Society.
It was during law school that Nick’s investment in community service developed into a sense of civic duty, a fierce dedication to not only participate in the democratic process but also encourage others to voice their opinions and concerns about the high-level decisions impacting their lives.
Serving as a voter protection fellow during the 2016 presidential election, Nick became a voting rights advocate and a leader in his community. As a fellow, Nick educated the public on what they needed to vote, recruited and trained poll observers, and organized volunteers and staff attorneys to register voters. Despite his high hopes for a record voter turnout, Nick learned that thousands of Wisconsin constituents were disenfranchised on election day due to the state’s voter photo ID law.
“I remember that bad taste in my mouth. I felt like we did a good job, but not good enough. We weren’t able to reach as many people as we could have,” said Nick.
Six years later, Nick is dedicated to reaching voters whose voices are at risk of being silenced. Of the many tasks, projects, and responsibilities that come with leading a coalition, Nick finds direct service work to be the most rewarding.
“I’m so fascinated to hear how people got to where they are today; what trials and tribulations they had to face; the life they’ve lived up to this point,” he said.
Meeting people on the ground, listening to their stories, and determining the most effective way to help them obtain vital documentation is the part of the work that Nick values the most. As a coalition coordinator, Nick has witnessed the intimidation many individuals often experience when attempting to obtain an ID, and he has worked with many low-income communities that are often dissuaded from getting an ID and/or other underlying documents.
There are those who cannot afford the cost of paying for an ID or a birth certificate, those who are physically disabled, or don’t have any form of transportation to get to their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Some don’t even have internet access or a phone.
Many families struggle to pay rent. Many must scrape together loose change to put food on the table. Single parents work overtime. Given this economic reality, some people may delay spending money to get a birth certificate or other documentation necessary to get a state ID card. That’s where VoteRiders comes in. As the Wisconsin coalition coordinator, Nick is working nonstop to make obtaining voter ID as streamlined, accessible, and straightforward as possible. He also knows that by helping Wisconsin voters get ID, he’s not only facilitating a passage to vote, he’s also making it possible for individuals to access other life-saving services, like housing.
Looking toward the future, Nick remains steadfast in his determination to inspire people from all walks of life to engage in the voting process. In his eyes, voting is power, and he will not stop fighting for every voice to be heard.