True democracy is about all of us having a voice in the decisions that affect us. When we uplift grassroots participation that includes everyone’s voice, we make strong and fair policies with broader community support and success. Yet our democracy has a long history of excluding some people from the promise of voting rights, particularly people of color, women, working-class people, and youth. Fair representation is still more vision than reality today. Low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, immigrants and young people are disenfranchised through barriers that make voting difficult, access to information scarce, and directly exclude millions of people who live in our country from making decisions about their own lives. Public meetings often take place at inaccessible times and locations, without interpretation or childcare, and elections are held on days that most people work. The powerful influence of money in politics sways elections through nearly unlimited spending on advertisements that determine the information most people receive about voting. Wealthy communities out vote working-class neighborhoods with twice their population. Communities of color and women remain starkly underrepresented at all levels of government in the Central Coast. This creates a cycle, where poorly represented neighborhoods vote less because they feel ignored and neglected by politicians and rarely see their experiences reflected in those running for office. Campaigns and elected policymakers then continue to focus their attention on communities with higher voter turnout, deepening the marginalization of communities of color.CAUSE organizes residents of underrepresented neighborhoods to get out the vote in our communities as well as pass policies that increase civic participation and fair representation. We have successfully advocated for fair election districts which protect the voice of underrepresented neighborhoods, passed policies to provide voter registration in school classrooms, and advanced city election policies to boost voter turnout. We believe in a world where democracy truly means everyone counts and everyone is heard.