Commentary & Analysis

Every Voice Should Count

By Aaron Hamlin

Dear friend,

How are you doing? No, really—how are you holding up? Our country is going through so much right now, and we wanted to reach out to see how you’re doing.

If you’re not feeling okay, you’re in good company. Much of our team feels the same way. The state of our democracy has us experiencing sleepless nights. We’re worried because our country is in crisis.  

It’s a crisis caused by too many voices going unheard. 

It’s a crisis caused by the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society being neglected.

It’s a crisis caused by hundreds of years of systemic policy failures that have come to a breaking point for the Black community.

We aren’t writing to you today to say that we have the answer to this crisis. We are not a racial justice organization.

But we are an organization committed to democracy. And we firmly believe that we cannot have a thriving democracy if Black voices continue to go unheard. 

All voters deserve a say in the decisions being made in our country. They deserve for their vote to create change and to hold leaders accountable. 

That means citizens’ voices should be heard when it comes to decisions related to economic policy, housing policy, education policy, and—yes—police training and conduct policy.  

Leaders might actually take on these difficult and painful issues if they had an obvious and powerful mandate to govern. 

There is absolutely no question—what happened to George Floyd was an egregious miscarriage of justice. And it was a preventable tragedy.

If policymakers had listened to the voices of millions of Americans crying out for reform for decades, then maybe George Floyd would still be with us. 

If policymakers had listened when riots broke out in LA in 1992, Ferguson in 2014, or Baltimore in 2015, then maybe they could have implemented policies that would keep both our citizens and our police officers safe.

Policies that would ensure that the humanity and life of every citizen are respected, regardless of their skin color. 

Make no mistake—this crisis is a failure of our democracy. It is a failure of our public officials to respond to the needs of their citizens. 

Our system fails to treat every voice equally, instead encouraging our leaders to form the smallest coalition possible to win an election. And too often, they choose to cater to those who already have power and influence—leaving the needs of the least among us unmet.    

So, what can be done? 

We promise that we will always stand up for the right of every single citizen—regardless of race, ethnicity, or creed—to have their voice heard and counted, particularly when it comes to the ballot box. 

We will stand up for a nation where the people are able to fully exercise their right to freedom of speech and expression.

We remain committed to empowering voters with approval voting—a free, simple reform that will give us all fairer and more representative elections. And as a result, we’ll elect representatives who will implement policies that actually benefit Americans.

And we will always unequivocally condemn white supremacy, racism, and bigotry. Those ideologies have no value in a flourishing democracy that recognizes the humanity of all its citizens.

We know that this is a very scary time for our country, friend. There is a lot of hurt, uncertainty, and despair. But by standing together and demanding real change, we can make sure that we don’t continue to see this cycle repeated. 

Together, we can create a democracy where every voice is equal and every voice counts. 

In Justice,

Aaron Hamlin + Felix Sargent
Executive Director + Board Chair 

P.S. Our virtual “door” is always open at if you have feedback for us—positive or negative. We won’t always get it right, but we are committed to growth.

Aaron Hamlin is a co-founder of CES, and served as its Executive Director until 2023.