Nonprofit ‘Vote Run Lead’ working to get more women into politics

Georgia State Capitol
Georgia State Capitol(CBS46)
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 9:23 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 10:17 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Ashlee Bruner, the newly named Georgia director of the national nonprofit group Vote Run Lead, has a goal for the future of the state’s legislature.

“Women make up 51% of the population, so Vote Run Lead believes women should make up 51%, at least, of the state legislature,” she said, standing just feet away from Georgia’s storied gold dome capitol building. “In Georgia, we are 39 seats away across the House and the Senate to that 51%.”

According to projections based on the current rate at which women are elected to state office in Georgia, it could take as long as 28 years to reach that goal.

“I’m not going to wait almost three decades to see equal representation under our gold dome,” Bruner adds with a chuckle.

According to internal polls conducted by Vote Run Lead, 85% of respondents want to see more women in public office. The aim of the group, which is nonpartisan, is to recruit more women to run, helping them along every step of the way.

Campaigns can be sticky territory for first-time candidates, so from filing paperwork to helping candidates open a bank account for fundraising, Vote Run Lead has been making the process of running easier for women and nonbinary office-seekers since 2005.

“Folks – not only women – but folks are like I’m not an accountant, I’m not an attorney, I don’t know all of the legal jargon and I’m not sure how to submit disclosures,” said Bruner. “We are on a mission to not only help on the overall and the big picture but also get down into the nitty-gritty and the granular and say, this is actually how you do it.”

While there’s a large focus on statewide office, Vote Run Lead shepherds candidates through the process in local commission, school board, and mayoral races alike. They also train women campaign managers on the ins and outs of actually running a political race.

Georgia State Representative Ruwa Romman, (D) – Duluth, worked with Vote Run Lead in the campaign to her historic 2022 victory.

“You think, okay, I’ve got to get my speeches done, I have to get my website done, but you don’t think about the more legal, technical, financial elements of it,” said Rep. Romman. “If we want to find solutions for our communities, those solutions need to come from people that understand the challenges that we all face.”

Rep. Romman is the first Muslim, Palestinian, and hijab-wearing lawmaker in the state of Georgia. She found out about Vote Run Lead while attending one of their regularly run voter education and training sessions. Months later, she was campaigning with their help.

“I remember just feeling so validated that yes, change is possible, and we just need to show up to make it happen,” said Rep. Romman. “At the end of the day, the reason I won is because I knew how to ask for help.”

If you’d like to learn more about Vote Run Lead, click here.