Voting is a fundamental principle – the cornerstone of our democracy – and all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to make their voices heard. The Kitsap County Council for Human Rights and League of Women Voters of Kitsap are partnering to present “Voting Rights are Human Rights,” a forum focusing on voting rights from a human rights perspective that takes place 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. (with a post-event reception 7:30 to 8 p.m.) Wednesday, May 24 in the Eagle’s Nest of the Kitsap County Fairground, 1195 Fairgrounds Road, Bremerton. Join us for this free event that is held in person with a virtual option via Zoom.

The forum will be moderated by League of Women Voters of Kitsap member Kim Abel and feature Washington State Representative Tarra Simmons; Kitsap County Auditor Paul Andrews; John Allen of the Kitsap County Accessible Voting Advisory Committee; Martitha May of Kitsap Mesa Redonda and former director of the Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center; and La Rond Baker, Washington Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Panelists will share their lived experiences facing challenges and barriers to voting, review recent legislation and changes made to improve voter accessibility – and look at work that still needs to be done. There will be opportunities to ask questions, check out voter resources and learn how to get involved.

Visit the Kitsap County Council for Human Rights website for more information and resources, including the Zoom link to join virtually, at kcowa.us/hrc.

More about forum participants:

  • Kim Abel has moderated election forums up and down the ballot for the League of Women Voters for over 20 years. She is a former administrative law judge, former mayor of Port Orchard and past President of the League of Women Voters of Washington State and Kitsap County. Kim is an admitted policy wonk.
  • John Allen, a member of the Kitsap County Accessible Voting Advisory Committee, is a Navy veteran and nuclear engineer by profession. He has served on national, state and local accessibility bodies with rule making and advisory missions. John and wife, Penny, manage a stewardship forest in South Kitsap.
  • Paul Andrews worked in Information Services for 23 years for Kitsap County as a data analyst before being elected in 2018 as Kitsap County Auditor where he oversees elections, recording, licensing and finance for Kitsap County. He is a certified election administrator and serves on the board of the Washington State Association of County Auditor’s.
  • La Rond Baker, J.D., is legal director at the ACLU of Washington, where she started her career. She is responsible for directing legal work on a wide range of cases and issues including voting rights, immigration, speech, race, gender, sexual orientation, and law enforcement use of force. Before returning to the ACLU, she worked in the Civil Rights Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and as Special Counsel for Affirmative Action and Policy in the King County Department of Public Defense.
  • Martitha May moved to the United States from Mexico in the early 1990s. She is co-founder of the Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center, Kitsap Mesa Redonda, 9/11 SOS and Kitsap Advocating for Immigrants Rights and Equity (KAIRE). Martitha is involved with many organizations advocating and improving access to resources for immigrants including the Professional Leaders of Color and Kitsap Racial Equity & Empowerment Fund, and currently works for the Kitsap Public Health District with the Parent Child Nursing Family Partnership Program and at Olympic College assisting ESL students to be successful.
  • Representative Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, represents the 23rd District, which includes Bainbridge Island and the north Kitsap Peninsula. She is Washington’s first formerly incarcerated legislator. A graduate of Pacific Lutheran University and the Seattle University School of Law, she is the co-founder of the Civil Survival Project. She was elected in 2020 to the Legislature where she advocates for fairer and more equitable legal, educational, and healthcare systems.

Questions? Contact Rebecca Pirtle in the Commissioners' Office at rpirtle@kitsap.gov.

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