Non-profit

Americans for Civic Participation

Logo of Project Vote . (link)
Tax ID:

52-1251514

Type:

Voter Registration Organization

Status:

Defunct

Formation:

1982

Ceased Operations:

1993

Project(s):

Project Vote (Defunct since 2017)

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Americans for Civic Participation is a defunct left-leaning voter registration organization best known for creating Project Vote, a left-of-center voting rights and activation nonprofit that worked to expand the number of minority voters and brought legal action against state-level voter identification measures. Over the course of eight years, Americans for Civic Participation claimed to have registered 1.2 million poor and minority voters in 25 states through its programming. 1

Activities

Americans for Civic Participation was an organization devoted to promoting voter registration and participation, particularly among low-income and minority voters. The organization was in operation by at least 1982. Between its founding and 1990, Americans for Civic Participation claimed to have registered 1.2 million poor and minority voters in 25 states through its program Project Vote, according to Reginald Holt, a director of an Americans for Civic Participation pilot called the RAISE project. Americans for Civic Participation is best known for creating Project Vote. The organization also created other voter-centric pilot programs and engaged in litigation on voting rights. 2 3 4 5

Project Vote

Americans for Civic Participation’s first major effort that began in 1982 was called Project Vote. The goal of Project Vote was to conduct voter registration events and get out the vote initiatives, particularly in left-leaning minority and poor communities. 6

Project Vote had three issue-specific programs. The first was its voter participation program to increase participation rates in neighborhoods of color. The second was Election Administration, which the project used to oppose election integrity measures like voter identification laws. The third was Public Agency Registration which was used to file lawsuits against agencies enforcing voter registration policies. 7 8 9 10

Project Vote is arguably best known for hiring future President Barack Obama to help conduct voter registration in Illinois, a job that elevated the young activist’s political profile and supporting his future runs for public office. Project Vote also had a decades-long relationship with the controversial and now-defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN). Project Vote continued after Americans for Civic Participation was shuttered in 1993 until 2017. 11 12 13

RAISE project

Raise Awareness of Issues through Service and Education (RAISE) project was a pilot of Americans for Civic Participation created to help the poor receive public benefits. The project director of RAISE was Reginald Holt. 14

Project Vote v. Ohio Bureau of Employee Services

Americans for Civic Participation was a plaintiff in the 1982 U.S. District Court case along with Project Vote and a local AFL-CIO council. The plaintiffs requested a restraining order to prevent the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services from blocking their access to the Bureau’s offices where the plaintiffs were urging unemployed people to register to vote. 15

People

Americans for Civic Participation’s Project Vote was founded by Sandy Newman, a longtime voting activist who also founded Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and Voices for Progress. Newman also directed the voter participation program for Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, a network of grantmaking organizations funded by three hedge fund billionaires designed, according to Philanthropy News Digest, to “avoid almost all public scrutiny.” Newman later became the co-founder and principal of Focus for Democracy Action, an advisory firm that uses data and metrics to direct philanthropic gifts to competitive elections in order to drive voter turnout. 16 17 18

An associate director of Americans for Civic Participation and Project Vote was Stephen Miller. Miller later became the deputy administrator in the D.C. Health Department. Miller also previously worked with Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday. 19

References

  1. Demaree, Virginia. “Helping Needy Find Aid Project in Guilford Stresses Tax Credit.” Greensboro News & Record. July 15, 1990. Updated January 24, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2024. https://greensboro.com/helping-needy-find-aid-project-in-guilford-stresses-tax-credit/article_784b9ee0-bad3-53d9-80a2-e234b0a99f4b.html.
  2. Reynolds, Gretchen. “Vote of Confidence.” Chicago Magazine. January 01, 1993. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-1993/Vote-of-Confidence/
  3. “Kirby Urner.” Grunch.Net. Accessed April 24, 2024. https://www.grunch.net/4dsolutions/kirby.html.
  4. Urner, Kirby. “From Princeton Back to Portland.” Medium. October 20, 2023. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://kirbyurner.medium.com/from-princeton-back-to-portland-96e9cd655669.
  5. Demaree, Virginia. “Helping Needy Find Aid Project in Guilford Stresses Tax Credit.” Greensboro News & Record. July 15, 1990. Updated January 24, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2024. https://greensboro.com/helping-needy-find-aid-project-in-guilford-stresses-tax-credit/article_784b9ee0-bad3-53d9-80a2-e234b0a99f4b.html.
  6. Demaree, Virginia. “Helping Needy Find Aid Project in Guilford Stresses Tax Credit.” Greensboro News & Record. July 15, 1990. Updated January 24, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2024. https://greensboro.com/helping-needy-find-aid-project-in-guilford-stresses-tax-credit/article_784b9ee0-bad3-53d9-80a2-e234b0a99f4b.html.
  7. “About.” Project Vote. Accessed April 25, 2024. http://www.projectvote.org/about/.
  8. Voting Policy.” Project Vote. Accessed April 25, 2024. http://www.projectvote.org/issues/voting-policy/.
  9. “Election Administration.” Project Vote. Accessed April 25, 2024. http://www.projectvote.org/about/programs/election-administration-program/.
  10. Minnite, Lorraine C., Ph.D. The Politics of Voter Fraud. Barnard College, Columbia University. October 2010. Accessed April 25, 2024. http://www.capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/2008/10/politics_of_voter_fraud_final.pdf.
  11. Reynolds, Gretchen. “Vote of Confidence.” Chicago Magazine. January 01, 1993. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-1993/Vote-of-Confidence/.
  12. Holan, Angie D. “Project Vote Not “an Arm of ACORN”.” POLITIFACT. October 17, 2008. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2008/oct/17/john-mccain/project-vote-not-an-arm-of-acorn/.
  13. “Project Vote to Close Its Doors on May 31st.” Project Vote. May 25, 2017. April 25, 2024. http://www.projectvote.org/blog/project-vote-close-doors-may-31st/.
  14. Demaree, Virginia. “Helping Needy Find Aid Project in Guilford Stresses Tax Credit.” Greensboro News & Record. July 15, 1990. Updated January 24, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2024. https://greensboro.com/helping-needy-find-aid-project-in-guilford-stresses-tax-credit/article_784b9ee0-bad3-53d9-80a2-e234b0a99f4b.html.
  15. “Project Vote v. Ohio Bur. Of Employment Services, 578 F. Supp. 7.” Justia US Law. September 13, 1982. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/578/7/2363528/.
  16. “Sandy Newman.” Focus for Democracy Action. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.focus4democracy.org/team-sandy.
  17. “Our Approach.” Focus for Democracy Action. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.focus4democracy.org/approach.
  18. “Anonymous Donors of More Than $1 Billion Revealed.” Philanthropy News Digest. May 9, 2014. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/anonymous-donors-of-more-than-1-billion-revealed.
  19. Sullivan, Patricia. “Stephen A. Miller, 52; Activist, Health Official. The Washington Post. March 30, 2006. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2006/03/31/stephen-a-miller-52/8489b870-2a44-4eef-a228-e1bdb3bba20b/.

Associated Organizations

  1. Project Vote (Non-profit)
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