by Mary Lyon
Not sure how to broach the subject of voting when aiming to Get Out The Vote? Just check with “the doctor.” The Willamette Women Democrats recently had a consult with Reed College Political Science Professor Dr. Paul Gronke, and the doctor was definitely IN. He had “prescriptions” for smarter outreach to potential voters, especially younger ones.
Gronke’s “Science of Voter Turnout” research established a key guideline. In a word, “Connect!” We are social creatures and want to fit in. So let that work for you when you’re talking with potential voters.
Effective ways to engage potential voters center on what you have in common with them. Gronke describes Oregon as a high-turnout state, which means new voters have lots of company.
And think local. Point out that others like them – classmates, neighbors, friends – have already committed to voting. You’re local so you’re a neighbor yourself or perhaps a member of a local organization. Let them know that someone’s paying attention to whether or not they participate in the election.
It’s also valuable to know what NOT to do. Gronke cautioned against sounding desperate – this is not the place or time to bemoan how people aren’t voting. Much better to emphasize the bigger voter turnout here. He stressed gentle pressure, only. Don’t come on strong, advocating for any one candidate or issue. That can be a turn-off.
The goal is to transform nonvoters into voters, NOT to try to change minds about an issue or candidate.
It all comes down to this: The single most important element of voter mobilization is urging the person to BE a voter.
If you’d like to be a Clackamas County Democrats Neighborhood Leader, contact us here.