Press Release: Resolution Requesting that the RIDP Allow Equitable Access to VAN
Updated: Mar 13, 2021
RI Democratic Women's Caucus Passes for All RI Democratic Candidates Resolution Requesting that the RIDP Allow Equitable Access to the Voter Activation Network (VAN)
[MARCH 1, 2021, PROVIDENCE, RI] - The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus voted unanimously at its recent February General Meeting to pass a resolution asking the Rhode Island Democratic Party (RIDP) to execute a more fair and equitable policy regarding access to the Voter Activation Network (VAN), an important campaign software tool. The vote was cast after discussing and reviewing numerous grievances on the subject of VAN access for Democratic candidates in Rhode Island. VAN allows candidates to plan and manage voter outreach efforts effectively. Without it, candidates are severely disadvantaged when running for elected office. "The current unwritten and inconsistently implemented policy from the RIDP has prevented too many members of the Women's Caucus--women, elected senators and representatives, and members of the BIPOC community alike--from obtaining access to important campaign software. It's not good for candidates, voters, and anyone who wants to see fair and democratic elections take place in Rhode Island," RI Democratic Women's Caucus Chair Liz Gledhill said. The RIDP has made VAN available for free only to incumbents, although current women incumbent candidates have recently shared that they, too, have been blocked from accessing this valuable resource. As more women, minorities, and low and middle income candidates decide to run for office, this policy effectively discriminates against them and creates significant financial barriers for new candidates. The RIDP is an outlier when it comes to sharing voter outreach software, as other state Democratic parties such as the Massachusetts’ Democratic Party, provide access to VAN “at a reasonable cost” to all candidates. Current RIDP policy also effectively blocks non-incumbent candidates from purchasing VAN with their own funds until far too late in the campaign season (June of 2022), at which time the State party will grant them a letter to provide to the VAN vendor allowing them to purchase their own software. Pursuant to national and state bylaws, the RIDP should encourage women, minorities, and low income and minority candidates to run for office; therefore, the RIDP must revise its current policy and make VAN available upon request to all Democratic candidates, at a reasonable cost. The full resolution is available online at the Women's Caucus website.