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    Lewis, Foster and Chu for #GOTV

    By Andrea Shorter–

    With mid-term elections just a few weeks away, there are three names that are helping me to stay focused in the work to turn out the blue wave vote.

    It’ll be of surprise, if not complete offense, to some that neither of those names are Kavanaugh. No, not now. I’ve spent enough energy for the moment on the disappointing appointment of the new Associate Justice. Any further comment about the Justice, his brethren who predictably placed the ascension of blue blood white straight male privilege as the highest value above the truth of a woman he very likely sexually assaulted while a drunken to blacked out prep school frat brat, and the complete dismissal by the President and U.S. Senators of rightfully angry protestors against the confirmation of Kavanaugh and to stand with assault survivors as nothing more than a nattering, sore loser “mob,” will be expressly made at the voting poll on November 6.

    The three names? Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, the late James Milton “Jim” Foster, and San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu.

    What link could possibly be powerful enough to serve as some self-imposed mantra to fuel a GOTV countdown? After all, these are three diverse and multi-generational figures—an African American Civil Rights Icon, an LGBTQ historical figure, and a Chinese American woman and elected Assessor of the City and County of San Francisco. What unites them in history is the power and importance of the vote and inclusion of the marginalized in the democratic franchise.

    John Lewis

    A living civil rights legend and icon, U.S. Congressman John Lewis needs little introduction to any forum or discussion about the hard-fought fight for the right to vote. He is most known for his role as a student activist who survived the “Bloody Sunday” merciless attacks on freedom fighters as they attempted to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery for the right to vote of African Americans.

    I thank John Lewis and the hundreds of others who literally spilt blood for the full enfranchisement of African Americans and others leading up to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As efforts continue to this day to suppress African American votes in states and elections that could deliver November 2018 victories for democratic candidates like Stacey Abrams for Governor of Georgia—ICYMI, she would be the first African American woman Governor in U.S. History—the sacrifices made by John Lewis and countless others become all the more sacred. No matter what, I must vote. It is my most sacred form of protest forged by the blood of John Lewis. I will always vote.

    James Milton “Jim” Foster

    Jim Foster is the founding father of what is now the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club, the nation’s first and oldest gay Democratic club in the country. In 1972, Foster and Madeline Davis would become the first openly LGBT persons to speak before a national party convention in support of a presidential candidate, as they did so at the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Albeit their appearance before the convention occurred at 3 am, but they were there. Yeah, they were first. But, most importantly, they were there.

    In protest, in communion or in curiosity, sometimes just being there, being heard, being seen and standing up to be counted, to edge your seat closer to the table, can make a difference for generations beyond your material reach. We lost Jim Foster to AIDS-related illness on October 31, 1990. I thank Jim and Madeline for being there, for me to be here to vote as an openly LGBT Democrat.

    Carmen Chu

    Carmen Chu is the Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco. She’s also a fierce feminist. Upon realizing that California is the third worst state for women’s voter registration, not one to agonize, she co-created and is leading the #WChallenge to increase voter registration and participation among California women. It’s a simple challenge: registered voters pledge to help at least one woman to register and turn out the vote in the mid-term elections. Simple. Go to the site ( ). I celebrate that the daughter of an immigrant experience once excluded by law from the democratic franchise is leading the way to make sure that every woman’s voice is heard, and that her vote counts. I thank Carmen for the #WChallenge and her strong belief in the democratic process and that all women’s experiences matter.

    So, it’s time to get out the vote, or GOTV, as known among the political organizers set.

    Vote! You don’t have to wait until November 6. In most cities, you can vote early at the local elections department, City Hall or other designated polling places.

    If you are registered to vote by mail, ballots have already dropped. If you’ve not received your VBM, call your department of elections office now! Don’t wait until election day.

    As a California resident, you can register online and learn more about voting at

    Andrea Shorter is a Commissioner and the former President of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for criminal and juvenile justice reform, voter rights, and marriage equality. A Co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, she was a 2009 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.