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I Vote. I Count. 2000, NAMI Voter Registration Campaign, Now Accessible On The Internet

Ken Steele, Respected Advocate For The Mentally Ill, Passes Away


For Immediate Release, October 10, 2000
Contact: Chris Marshall
703-524-7600



Special Note: Ken Steele, who inspired thousands of Americans with psychiatric disabilities across New York City, New York State and the nation with his call to political action via the Mental Health Voter Empowerment Project that he founded almost a decade ago, passed away last Friday in his sleep. As director of MHVEP and publisher of the exemplary New York City Voices, Ken worked tirelessly to fight stigma and discrimination, to educate and organize people with psychiatric disabilities and to help create a voting bloc that could move public opinion and policy in our favor.

In the theme of I VOTE I COUNT, Ken Steele believed strongly that politicians needed to be educated and then held accountable for their positions and votes. Ken understood the power of the ballot box and could see the day when consumers, their families and others would join together to create a mental illness voter bloc. Ken's enthusiasm for the voter education and empowerment campaign was contagious. As I VOTE I COUNT moves across America, NAMI thanks Ken Steele for his passion and vision.

I VOTE. I COUNT. 2000 is now accessible on the Internet.
http://www.nami.org/confer/count/cover.html

The campaign season is now in full swing. Election Day is less than a month away. This year, the NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination launched I VOTE. I COUNT. 2000, a "bipartisan get-out-the-vote effort" and it has been gaining significant attention, and registering scores of people with mental illness. Across America NAMI consumers, their families and others are working together to hold rallies, candidate forums, do mailings, hold education workshops. NAMI voters are attending public events to educate candidates about important issues for people with serious brain disorders and their families. We know that if you are educated on the issues and participate in the political process you can make a difference.

I VOTE. I COUNT. 2000 has served to increase the strength in NAMI's grassroots by the development of an educated mental illness voting bloc that forces politicians to stake out their position on mental illness and then holds them accountable for the promises they make. By working in coalitions to build a mental illness voting bloc, we will influence and change the service system in states for years to come.

I VOTE. I COUNT. 2000 recognizes the dignity and the pride that comes with exercising our democracy's essential right. NAMI has joined together in coalition with Ken Steele's National Voter Empowerment Campaign to get-out-the vote and hold politicians accountable. The time is NOW, as the election year heats up, to stand up and be counted.

The Campaign to End Discrimination has funded I VOTE. I COUNT. 2000 mini-grants to 26 NAMI affiliates in 26 states. These grants coupled with the innovative I VOTE. I COUNT. 2000 Tool Kit, now available on NAMI's WEB site, have enabled NAMI affiliates to move quickly to develop coalitions and organize a mental illness constituency that will have a life beyond the November elections.

The I VOTE I COUNT 2000 Tool Kit is available on NAMI's Web site. For information and/or technical assistance regarding I VOTE I COUNT 2000 activities contact Mike Fitzpatrick at 207-353-9311 or e-mail mfitznami@aol.com. Single copies of the Tool Kit are available by contacting Kara Sweeney at 703-516-7976 or e-mail kara@nami.org.

IF YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOS, POSTER GRAPHICS, FLYERS, OR STORIES OF ACTIVITIES YOU AND/OR YOUR STATE HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN WITH I VOTE. I COUNT. 2000, SEND COPIES OR E-FILES TO KARA SWEENEY AT NAMI, AND WE'LL SHARE IDEAS ON THE WEB PAGE.

 


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