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Shalom UCC shares in voter education for new citizens

As part of a regional Faith Action Network (FAN) meeting on Sept. 30 at the mosque in West Richland, Lora Rathbone, a member of both the local League of Women Voters the Tri-Cities Faith Action Network helped provide voter education to refugees who recently became citizens

Girl with face painting at the Harvest Festival for Spanish-speaking voters with translation into Spanish. Photos courtesy of Lora Rathbone

Both the league and Tri-Cities FAN came to the conclusion that voter education is needed to have more people vote.

“We realized that getting people registered to vote wasn’t enough,” Lora said.  “Many people say they don’t know enough about the issues, and many ballots were thrown out because they were not signed, and so on.” 

So the league and Tri-Cities FAN hosted three voter education events in October.

• One was held at a public library.

• Another was at a harvest festival for Spanish speaking voters with translation in Spanish.

• A third was at the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities, with translation in Arabic.

“Although we reached a dozen or so people at each event, we learned ways to improve the presentation and to reach more people,” she said.

They found that participating at an existing event is helpful, but the Harvest Festival was noisy.

Woman at the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities listens to a presentation.

“We decided holding an event with child care and children’s activities with a voting presentation is worth trying next year,” Lora said.  “People were appreciative of our efforts and for the opportunity to feel included as the American citizens that they are.”

Lora has been involved with Shalom UCC in Richland and its Social Action Committee.  She is also leader of the Tri-Cities Faith Action Network, which has been meeting with pastor Rick Matters of St. Paul’s Episcopal in Kennewick on the Poor People’s Campaign.

Members of the Tri-Cities FAN are also involved in the Tri-Cities Immigrant Coalition (TCIC), which has been holding “Know Your Rights trainings for the Latino population and community outreach to overcome myths about this population.

Shalom UCC has been involved with the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities for many years, helping plan and participate in Interfaith Potlucks, Peace Walks and directly aiding refugees.

For information, call 509- 371-8000 or email


Pacific Northwest United Church News - Copyright © November-December 2018


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