Read on PRNewswire — Having conducted a nationwide search, VoteRiders is pleased to welcome Lauren Kunis as the organization’s new Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer. Lauren is joining VoteRiders from National Voter Registration Day, a comprehensive, collaborative initiative managed by Nonprofit Vote that works to register every eligible voter and increase participation in every election.
While serving as Program Director for National Voter Registration Day, Kunis led the annual campaign’s strategy development, resource mobilization, recruitment, and support for thousands of diverse partners. In 2020, these efforts created a record-setting coalition of more than 4,500 partners from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors, which generated 1.5 million new or updated registrations.
“For almost a decade, VoteRiders has been constantly aware of and vigilant about the fact that voter registration – which itself requires ID – is not enough to enable tens of millions of citizens to vote. They also need ID to actually cast a ballot. Complicated and ever-changing voter ID laws in 36 states foster confused, albeit eligible, voters in every state, who are then discouraged from voting,” said Kathleen Unger, Voter ID expert and Founder, President, and Chairman of VoteRiders. “Lauren’s in-depth understanding of voter registration and ID issues, along with her widespread relationships among partner organizations, makes her uniquely equipped for this role. We are so excited that Lauren will lead our team as we expand our work to make sure every eligible voter can confidently cast a ballot that counts.”
Kunis joins the organization at a time when the voter ID crisis is increasingly urgent. There are currently around 25-40 million citizens of voting age without a valid government-issued photo ID, most of whom are student and young voters, married women who change their name, adults age 65+, people with disabilities, and voters from communities of color. The growth of this number has accelerated as DMV and other government agency closures have made it impossible for voters to obtain or renew their IDs in the past year.
In addition, countless laws are currently being considered across the country that would create even more barriers around voter ID that will prevent Americans’ voices from being heard at the ballot box. In 2021 alone:
- 158 bills with restrictive voter ID provisions have been introduced in 35 states, according to Voting Rights Lab. [https://tracker.votingrightslab.org/issues/21VoterID]
- Five states have already passed restrictive voter ID legislation – Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, and Wyoming.
- Given the governor’s likely veto of Michigan’s three voter ID bills, Republican lawmakers intend to back a ballot drive that would allow them to enact these measures into law if supporters gather 340,000 signatures.
- The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a constitutional amendment that would require voters to show ID every time they vote.
- Ongoing lawsuits regarding North Carolina’s voter ID legislation will likely result in its going into effect in 2022.
While these laws can have devastating effects on voter participation across the board, they have a disproportionate impact on specific communities:
- 1 in 4 Black voters does not have a current, government-issued photo ID.
- 18% of U.S. citizens aged 18-24 do not have photo ID with their current address and name.
- 66% of women do not have ready access to proof of citizenship with their current legal name.
- Nearly 10% of registered voters with a disability do not have a valid photo ID.
“I have a deep appreciation of the challenges that already underrepresented communities face when trying to obtain the appropriate ID to vote and have a voice in our democracy,” said Lauren Kunis, incoming ED/CEO of VoteRiders. “I am thrilled to continue my work in increasing voter access, growing the electorate with equity, and to be joining a team so effective at and dedicated to strengthening our nation’s democratic processes at such a critical moment.”
As the nation’s leading nonprofit focused solely on voter ID education and assistance, VoteRiders is committed to identifying voters in need and informing them about their state’s voter ID and the federal government’s voter registration ID laws, as well as helping them to obtain the appropriate ID to ensure they can vote. The organization offers an exhaustive combination of bilingual digital and Helpline resources and in-person services to voters including:
- The most comprehensive and user-friendly digital voter ID information hub available, including detailed guides on topics like the difference between REAL ID and voter ID
- An interactive digital map with up-to-date in-person and mail-in voter ID laws for each state
- A 24/7 voter ID chatbot that provides voters with automatic information and personalized assistance
- Free rides to the DMV and other logistical assistance
- Voter ID Clinics, both virtually and weekly in-person including to assist people facing homelessness, veterans, and folks with former felony convictions – for whom an ID also creates opportunities for jobs, housing, and healthcare.
Together with its network of nearly 6,000 volunteers and over 700 partner organizations, VoteRiders continues to ensure that eligible voters have the ID they need to vote with confidence, knowing they cannot be turned away; in the 2020 election cycle alone the organization provided direct assistance to nearly 1.5 million new voters, and reached millions more through their partner organizations and celebrity ambassadors. VoteRiders is eager to expand its partnerships and services to reach even more voters with Lauren at the helm.
The organization is also proud to announce that Marc Bauer, a partner with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, will be serving as Outside General Counsel to VoteRiders. Marc has been a valued member of the Board of Trustees for many years and now he is increasing his commitment by taking on this position. Marc is bringing with him the resources of one of the top law firms in the country.
For more information about each state’s voter ID laws, and to sign up to volunteer, donate, or partner with VoteRiders, visit www.voteriders.org.