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Katie Hobbs Selects Progressive Project Leader For Youth Leadership Award

October 19, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Last month, Secretary of State and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs announced this year’s John Lewis Youth Leadership Award winner: a leader of a project launched by Democratic money forces. 

The winner, Arizona State University (ASU) student Anusha Natarajan, is the vice chair of Campus Vote Project (CVP): an initiative by the Fair Elections Center (formerly the Fair Elections Legal Network), a left-wing activist nonprofit launched by New Venture Fund, a subsidiary nonprofit to the Democratic money behemoth Arabella Advisors.

The Fair Elections Center launched CVP in 2012. According to the available tax return data, from 2017 to 2019, Fair Elections Center gave CVP over $1.1 million. Their 2020 and 2021 funding reports aren’t available yet. 

Fair Elections Center has received millions collectively, including from various principal bankrollers of the national Democratic money network such as the Democracy Fund, the Open Society Foundations (formerly the Open Society Institute), and Tides Foundation.

CVP advocates for election reforms such as accepting student IDs as a valid form of voter ID, abolishing voter ID for online registration, allowing same-day voter registration, removing proof of campus residency, granting voting rights to all individuals regardless of past convictions or incarceration status, establishing universal mail-in voting, expanding early voting, and increasing drop box locations. Arizona doesn’t accept student ID as a valid form of voter ID. 

The CVP state coordinator for Arizona, Justa Lopez, is an ASU graduate seeking a master’s degree in public administration. Lopez formerly worked with Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-03), League of Arizona Cities and Towns, and Phoenix City Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari. 

According to an archived version of their website from 2019, CVP partnered with American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) American Democracy Project, American Association of University Women (AAUW), Andrew Goodman Foundation, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) Black Youth Vote, Campus Compact, Campus Elections Engagement Project, Circle, Democracy Works, Education Votes, Election Protection, Feminist Majority Foundation, NASPA, Generation Progress, HACU, iCitizen, Inspire US, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), National Campus Leadership Council (NCLC), Young Invincibles, United States Student Association, Rock the Vote, Roosevelt Institute, The Democracy Commitment, and Bridge Alliance.

CVP no longer lists its partner organizations on its website. Most recently, they announced MTV as a partner.

The two runners-up for this year’s John Lewis Youth Leadership Award were Natalie Collings, Mohave County voter registration supervisor, and Greyson Taylor, a Grand Canyon University (GCU) graduate student as well as co-founder and director of African American Reconstruction, dedicated to increasing affirmative action-style funding and hiring. 

Taylor was also nominated last year, one of 14 nominees named in the first year of the John Lewis Youth Leadership Award. Last year’s winner was Ayesha Ahsan: an Andrew Goodman Foundation ambassador like Natarajan as well as Natarajan’s successor for ASU’s Changemaker Central civic engagement chair. Ahsan, also a former ACLU of Arizona and Alliance for Justice intern, was awarded ASU’s Barrett Honors Thesis last year for declaring that policing doesn’t reduce crime, as part of a defense for defunding police. 

“Through this, I found no statistical significance to suggest that police spending reduces crime rates, which aligns with the argument that abolitionists make,” stated Ahsan. “Additionally, I found that public expenditures towards workforce training, housing and human services have much more impact in reducing crime rates than policing.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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