The Environmental Voter Project (EVP) believes there are many Americans who care about the environment, but seldom show up to vote. Motivating enough climate-conscious folks to vote could swing the district.
Environmental Voter Project Strategy
EVP uses surveys and third-party modeling to predict who might cast a ballot based on their beliefs about the environment. By targeting such folks who do not regularly vote, EVP hopes to get them to the polls.
The Opportunity: Colorado’s 8th Congressional District
Starting this spring, Swing Blue Alliance (SBA) will be a part of an EVP project. EVP is bringing its postcarding to the 8th congressional district of Colorado, a newly created district with no incumbent and an electorate that shades purple. SBA volunteers will be sending postcards to some 17,000 voters in the district prior to the June primary. Turnout will be measured against a control group. EVP will learn whether its methods succeeded in boosting the turnout of these presumed environmental voters.
The Colorado operation, like all of EVP’s work, will be a nonpartisan affair. The state mails out ballots to all active registered voters on June 6th in advance of a June 26th primary. EVP and its many SBA volunteers will mail postcards that same day from post boxes all over the country, timed to arrive a day or two after the ballots – just in time to get them filled out before they get lost. Unsent postcards will be subtracted from the totals.
When the dust settles in the months following the election, EVP’s analysts will gather voter participation totals, measuring them against the 2,000 control voters who met the criteria of non-voting environmentalists but didn’t receive postcards. When the two groups’ turnout is compared, EVP will have an accounting of how effective its volunteers’ efforts were.
Why does a deliberately nonpartisan organization get involved in primaries? Because data shows that voting is a habit. Every election, from president to state rep to county commissioner, provides an occasion to form that habit.
Primaries are particularly easy for low-propensity voters to overlook, so they offer an opportunity for EVP. The goal is to increase the influence of climate voters, but to do that, EVP needs to restructure the way people think about voting. A large task? Yes indeed – which means more work for SBA to mobilize its card writers, phone bankers, and all its other volunteers in the field.
Increasing Voter Turnout – A Complementary Goal
EVP and SBA both seek to increase voter turnout, and our postcard writers can help. So if you’re reading this, take the next step: contact your host or SBA directly. Fill out as many cards as you can between now and June 6th. You’ll encourage some climate voters to go to the polls, and you’ll be part of something even bigger: the healing of our democracy.
– Brent Whelan is a retired teacher, a climate activist, and writer of postcards to swing state voters. He lives in Allston, MA.