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Asking the Newly Elected To Listen To What Voters Want

November 5, 2008

St. Louis, MO - The day after voters flocked to the polls, Missouri voter registration organizations already are peeling back the numbers, to review the outcome of their yearlong efforts and to march ahead, asking the newly elected to listen to Missouri voters.

Several advocates joined forces to recruit more than 300,000 new voters this year, and they're pleased with the results. The Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition or Pro-Vote, along with a dozen other organizations, reached out to low-income and African American neighborhoods to educate and register new voters.

Gwenette Gregory, a staff member for Pro-Vote, was personally responsible for signing up 13,000 new voters. In her view, this historic election did more than bring people together to cast their ballots.

"So many young people in our neighborhood that don't go to school - you know, who are just not doing the right things right now - were there voting. They've seen the excitement. So many people - people who normally don't even get along with one another - but everybody was standing there together for one reason."

Pro-Vote, along with other health advocates, now plans to ask Congress for a health insurance bailout to enhance Medicaid, and ensure families in Missouri have healthcare coverage.

John Hickey, program director for Women's Voices, Women Vote says his organization registered more than 42,000 women, in the largest voter registration drive in Missouri to target women. According to Hickey, unmarried women have been underrepresented on Election Day as they face additional pressures, especially during this economic crisis. He says with women's voices heard in Missouri, the work has just begun.

"Really, elections are just a means to an end, they're not an end themselves - and then, our next step will be making sure that whoever is elected makes changes in those key policy areas that really impact unmarried women."

Hickey adds the Women's Voice, Women Vote advocates plan to address core issues such as pay equity, universal affordable healthcare, and a secure retirement with both of the the new administrations - in Washington D.C. and Jefferson City.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MO