By Ahuva Sunshine
One year ago I began my journey through law school. I spent virtually all of my time as a first-year law student diving headfirst into legal casebooks and arguments, learning how to navigate the complexities of law school and the law itself (or at least how to at least keep my head above water).
During my spring break I had the immense privilege of attending NCJW’s Washington Institute for the first time. At the conference I was able to take impactful political action on many of the issues I had recently studied and become passionate about. Along with the Ohio Delegation, I visited the offices of both of my senators as well as my representative in the House. Together we fought to restore voting rights protections, increase funding to provide critical services to survivors of human trafficking, and ensure abortion coverage to women enrolled in federal health plans and programs. We also urged our senators to support holding a hearing for Judge Garland.
Taking concrete political action with a group of progressive Jewish advocates at Washington Institute reinforced why I enrolled in law school in the first place: to use law as a tool to create progressive change on an individual and societal level.
NCJW’s focus on political action inspired me to empower others to take political action of their own; this past summer I volunteered to register people to vote. Conversing with strangers on the importance of making their voices heard and persuading them to register was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. The excitement inherent in becoming involved in our democracy’s political process for the first time is infectious; people gathered around to cheer on and congratulate individuals registering.
The stakes could not be higher in this election. While the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has protected voting rights around the country for the past 50 years, it was gutted by the US Supreme Court in 2013 in its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. States and local governments have since passed and implemented restrictive laws threatening access to the polls for millions of eligible voters, disproportionately impacting voters of color, women voters, young voters, low-income voters, voters with disabilities, and voters who rely on languages other than English. This will be the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.
That’s why we need to get out the vote. If we care about our democracy, we need to make sure that everyone has a voice in our political process. With so much at stake, from criminal justice reform to abortion access to judicial nominations, everyone deserves to be heard. I’ll be doing my part as a law student, and I know NCJW advocates across the country will be doing their part as well. Join us.
Resources to Get Out the Vote:
- Check out NCJW’s voter video to inspire your work!
- Volunteer to be a poll monitor.
- Share state-specific election information on social media using these handy graphics.
- Make a plan to vote! Ask this question to friends, family members, and people in your community. Make sure everyone you ask has a plan to vote early, vote absentee, or get to the polls on November 8.
Ahuva Sunshine is a second-year law student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She is President of the Jewish Law Students Association and Vice President of Marketing and Communications of the Women’s Legal Society.