In 2016, a small group of college students began to research voting trends in Mississippi in correlation with a.) the number of eligible voters in the state and b.) the demographic makeup of the state. Their objective was to register as many Mississippians to vote as possible for what they believed would be the most crucial elections of Mississippi’s modern electoral history: 2018-2020. They were especially interested in engaging young voters. Armed with the knowledge that approximately 445,000 citizens in Mississippi are unregistered and that many of
those voters skew younger, poorer, and include the most marginalized populations in the state, especially black and brown citizens, that group of young people founded what is now known as Mississippi Votes.
Our organizational mission is to cultivate a culture of civic engagement throughout the state of Mississippi. Since its inception, Mississippi Votes has evolved and grown by intentionally incorporating research and evaluation and by deeply listening to the people of Mississippi. We have strengthened our leadership and outreach across the state; tested, updated and deepened our organizing model, and incorporated programming that best reflects the people of Mississippi. We aim to empower people across the state, especially those who are most often unheard.
We are a nonpartisan civic engagement organization composed of intergenerational synergy. We trust, value, and adhere to the leadership of young people and are invested in the forward progression of the state of Mississippi. We believe that holistic civic engagement in our state is the most critical piece in attaining true democracy. It is our belief that Mississippi Votes’ programming and approach to place-based community organizing evokes a spirit of self-determination in the hearts of Mississippians that urges them to move beyond the voter registration tables, to the polls, and into positions of power.
Since inception, Mississippi Votes has been a pioneer and leader in voter registration and engagement in Mississippi. In a little over a year, Mississippi Votes has successfully recruited and retained over 400 statewide volunteers as well as registered over 4,000 voters. We have demonstrated the vital role community organizing plays in increasing voter consciousness and in increasing voter turnout.
The work and accomplishments of Mississippi Votes, especially in the 2018 midterms, has laid the foundation for making lasting change. With three solid years to continue to cultivate a culture of civic engagement (through the 2019 gubernatorial and state legislative elections, 2020 presidential elections and the 2021 municipal elections), Mississippi Votes will foster a robust and engaged citizenry who are not only registered to vote but who use that right.