In a WNBA season dedicated to social justice advocacy, the Washington Mystics has launched Unite the Vote, in which the New York Liberty is participating. Established in partnership with When We All Vote, a national, nonpartisan, non-profit being co-chaired by former First Lady Michelle Obama, Unite the Vote is enabling the nine participating WNBA franchises to engage in some healthy off-court competition in which everyone wins.
Teams are working to increase the number of registered voters in America. From Aug. 18 to Sept. 18, fans can go to the Unite the Vote website (unitethevotechallenge.com) and click on their favorite team to find information about registering to vote and then mark themselves registered when they’ve registered. The results are shown in real time.
The winning WNBA team gets bragging rights and the losing teams will create care packages for homeless families to be donated to the winning team’s community. Much like on-court action, the Seattle Storm is currently atop the results in Unite the Vote.
“When the players’ association decided to dedicate the season to social justice, they really stuck together as the athlete council to talk about the issues that were important to them,” said Alycen McAuley, senior vice president, team services, Washington Mystics. “They settled on four key platforms and one of them was voting.”
McAuley said the Mystics organization discussed ways to effect real change. Voting is an important means of propelling change, not only at the national level, but also locally.
“Our athletes have been very vocal about the importance of voting. We really wanted to turn that activism into some tools for our fans to take action,” said McAuley.
The partnership with When We All Vote also allows people to get resources in terms of knowing their rights in terms of voting. The start date of Aug. 18 marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, although all Black women did not have full voting rights until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“With Unite the Vote we want to use the collective of the WNBA to raise the profile,” said McAuley. “We think when our powers are combined we’re even more potent and we can get messaging out there not only in our communities, but nationwide.”
Last week, the WNBA recognized Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder of the African American Policy Forum and creator of the #SayHerName campaign. “I think the new collective bargaining agreement that was struck between the WNBA and the players really laid a lot of the foundation for what you’re seeing now,” said McAuley.