What will it take to beat Trump in 2020? That is the existential question facing all Democrats, regardless of which candidate you support. When the nominee is ultimately decided upon, we must not only unite and rally behind him or her, but we have to work hard to make sure we get Democrats registered and out to vote. The old adage, “it all depends on turnout” is true. When Democrats vote, Democrats win! According to the United States Election Project, almost 92 million eligible Americans did not vote in 2016! If only a portion of those had voted, the outcome would have likely been different.
So, what can we, as individuals and collectively, do to get Democrats to vote? First we must back candidates who support:
- Streamlining voter registration with automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, and online voter registration
- Make voting more convenient with in-person early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and vote-at-home with vote centers
- Providing sufficient resources in elections and ensure voting is accessible
- Restoring rights for formerly incarcerated people
- Strengthening civics education in schools
But, it all starts with a grassroots ground game – neighbors making contact with neighbors. Research shows that groups with active voter engagement programs have been very effective in harnessing voter power and enthusiasm to bring about positive change in the communities they serve. We in San Diego are fortunate to have an established, effective GO (grassroots organizing) Team to provide guidance and resources on how to engage and motivate people to vote. How effective is this effort? GO Team covered precincts average a 14% increase in Democratic turnout!
Started in 2005, the San Diego Grassroots Organizing (GO) Team is composed of volunteers who represent the Democratic party in their own communities. GO Team members reach out to fellow Democrats and likely Democratic voters as friends and neighbors, offering valuable information and the personal encouragement to vote and get involved. The key is connecting the act of voting to making an impact on issues that affect people’s lives.
People are more likely to listen to people they know and who share their values. We all know people who feel disenfranchised and disillusioned by politics as usual. This year, more than any in recent history, we all have a role to play in getting them to vote. There is a lot you can do to help.
Outreach efforts may include canvassing, sending direct mailings, or holding phone banks to contact potential voters. Studies show that voters contacted through canvassing and direct outreach efforts are more likely to participate in elections. Americanprogress.org found that, generally, one additional vote is produced for every 14 people contacted by canvassers, while some volunteer phone banks have been shown to produce one additional vote for every 20 people contacted. Other studies by AmericanProgress show that voter contact in majority-African American neighborhoods can increase participation between 7 and 14 percentage points. Direct voter outreach has proven especially effective for young people as well. During the 2012 election, young people who were contacted by a campaign were 1.4 times more likely to vote than those who were not contacted. And between 2013 and 2017, Virginia saw a 114 percent increase in early and absentee voting among Latinos, after partisan and nonpartisan organizations devoted significant resources toward in-language advertisements, polling, and canvassing in Latino communities.
So, get involved and make a difference in November! Join the GO Team, help register voters, knock on doors, call your neighbors – every little bit helps. Voter turnout is crucial for Democrats – – when Democrats vote, Democrats win!