As a co-op, we believe in the power of people coming together to create meaningful change. And voting is one of the most powerful ways we can make our voices heard. For the November 2020 election, we helped outfit our co-op community—employees and members alike—with the tools they needed to participate. Ahead of future elections, be sure to check back for voting resources

Why I Vote

We know it’s important to vote. But why it’s important is different for everyone. We asked REI employees, members and partners to share why they’re casting ballots this year. Here are their personal perspectives.

In the weeks leading up to the November election, we’ll continue to share more Why I Vote stories from the co-op community.

Gaby Delgadillo Sarabia
Executive Assistant at REI
"I was born in Mexico… and brought to the U.S. illegally at the age of 2. I attended elementary, middle and high school as an undocumented immigrant…. I became a U.S. citizen when I was 28 and my first thought was ‘I finally have the privilege to vote.’ I vote for my niece who is 1 year old and her future. I vote for my past life as an undocumented immigrant…. I vote because it is a privilege of which I am tremendously proud."
Libby Snow
REI member since 2017
"I vote so that future generations can have the opportunity to experience and explore a healthy planet. The world seems to be a scarier, more difficult and challenging place to live by the day, whether that's impacts of climate change, a global pandemic or systemic racial injustice. The decisions that our elected leaders make today will impact us tomorrow and for decades to come..."
Susie Paige
Organizer at GirlTrek
"It’s important to me to vote because my ancestors were beaten, jailed and killed, so I could. I feel it’s a tribute to them to vote, and even if I don’t particularly like who’s on the ballot, I feel like I dishonor their memory if I don’t walk a few blocks and vote. They gave everything so that I could."
Jennie Russell
IT Director at REI
"I have two young daughters and I hope that my vote, both locally and nationally, helps shape the world they will grow up in. I vote to create a more inclusive world for folks whose experience is different than mine as a white, cis, privileged woman. I vote for my fellow LGBTQ+ folks as a bisexual woman. I vote for those who work on climate change and ensure our world is protected so we can enjoy it…."
Marcus Corey
REI DC Supervisor, Sumner, WA
"My reason for voting has never changed in the four decades I have been participating in this critical process: Supporting the peaceful transition of power enshrined in free, fair, public elections. It forces a regular dialogue about important issues and highlights the continual need for engagement by the citizens of this democracy…. I vote because I am an American."
Andrew V. Morton
REI Sales Manager, Rockville, MD
"One of my greatest motivators is the generations walking the path of life behind me…. The child in school dreaming of a future with endless possibilities…. The fate of my future as a black, gay male in this country motivates me…. Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice and so many others motivate me…. As a people if we speak up, stand up and cast our vote, we can be as the moon is to the tide of the sea, and change the way it hits the shore."
Kieran Balazs
REI Sales Lead, Salt Lake City, UT
"In an age of accelerating wealth inequality in our country, public lands are the most equitable thing we have left. I vote to preserve and manage these lands for the enjoyment of ALL Americans… I vote so every American, regardless of geographic residence or income, can step foot in a forest, field, lakeshore, beach, or mountaintop and say, ‘This is MY land.’"
Caiti Anderson
REI General Manager, Washington DC
"I vote because my voice matters and it’s my right to influence change and policy in this country. There is a lot of work to do, and we won’t see change unless we vote for it."
Lee Scottlorde
GirlTrek Philadelphia chapter engagement ambassador
"Voting is an act of community care. I don’t have to wait for a situation to hit my family or my son or for my husband to be gunned down or any of the societal ills that we’re knowledgeable of to fall upon my own family for me to act. There is more than enough evidence of inequity to activate every eligible voter. It’s important for me to vote for all of us that are living under systemic oppression, not only as an act of resistance, but also of faith. Faith that with our collective energy working inside and outside the system that we will be victorious in improving our quality of living in this country."
Ethan Sheets
REI Store Manager, Cleveland, OH
"Because it’s my responsibility and my obligation to act for the future of my children, for the generations yet to come, and for the singular planet that we so desperately need."
Rachel Lum
REI Store Manager, Folsom, CA
"Voting ensures the issues which impact my daily life are priorities for our government. As the daughter of a biracial couple, my parents’ marriage was illegal in parts of our country prior to June of 1967. My existence is predicated on the votes of Americans who believed in a future with racial equity and justice. I feel a profound sense of personal responsibility to our future society to vote."
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Tessa DeMarco
REI member since 2019
"I love this Earth to my core, from the national parks that give us a glimpse of the rawness and pureness of the Earth, to the air and water I take for granted daily. I'm lucky to say that on Election Day, I'm choosing to help save the Earth. It’s important to me that generations to come have those amazing experiences with Earth that make you want to high-five, crack a beer, and then do it all over again."
Eric Artz
REI Co-op President & CEO
"Every election is a chance to shape our future. A chance to empower leaders to create the meaningful change we want to see in our society. I vote for the future that my daughters will grow into.... Our elections are a moment to declare our values, to make a statement about our beliefs, and to shape this country’s future."
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Jeanette Honermann
Community Affairs Coordinator at REI
"As a woman, and a person of color, I take every chance to express my choice and to vote, grounded in gratitude to those who literally fought for this opportunity. As recently as the mid-1900s, women, men between 18 and 21 and most African- and Native Americans were barred from voting. Suffrage was a mass movement with diverse voices."
Wendy Garcia
Outings Leader at Latino Outdoors
"Not voting is giving up your voice, and your voice is the most powerful tool that you have. Especially since elections have major consequences as we’ve seen, voting really is just an opportunity to enact change for things that you love and believe in—for example, public lands for me. Voting for people who align with my values is my way to enact that change."
Cam Preston
Retail Operations Video Producer at REI
"I am enrolled in the San Carlos Apache tribe, which is a great honor. However, it means I possess a piece of paper that identifies me at a federal level by my race. This is just one of many ways I have been institutionally divided from other Americans throughout my life. Native Americans were granted citizenship without the right to vote. We struggled for decades to gain the right to have our voices heard in every state in the nation. I won’t let that struggle go to waste."
Karla Amador
Co-founder of the 52 Hike Challenge
"Voting to me is important because I get to take a stand for what I believe in and have my voice heard. … I know sometimes it's easy to get discouraged and feel like one voice doesn't matter, but in the grand scheme of things, it does. ... Think about what could happen if every ballot was counted? I know that as a Latin American woman, I feel privileged to vote and be the example for future generations."
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Austin Hurwitz
REI member since 2014
"I care about my community. We’re certainly at an interesting juncture as a country, and I feel the best way to make an impact starts within your community. … There’s a lot that we can do better, and I think that making our voices heard and doing out civic duty in voting is how we make progress. While it’s just one vote, if everyone were to do their part, we would make a lot of progress."
Theresa Anderson
Retail Operations Manager at REI
"I vote because I value my rights as a Mexican-American woman and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I vote to ensure that I have a say in what happens to me, my family and my community, and to set a good example for my son. Voting is a major way we can ensure equality and rights for all people. Without a vote we have no voice."
Lindsay Bourgoine
Director of Policy and Advocacy at Protect Our Winters
"This year, I will show up and vote for the issue of greatest concern to me: climate change. Red or blue, as Americans who love this nation’s great outdoors and the incredible experiences we have and can continue to have in nature, it’s not hard to see that things are changing. … This November, I will show up and cast my ballot for the leaders that commit to addressing this issue for those of us that seek freedom in the great outdoors. And if you, too, love the land, I ask you to make a plan to vote."
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