We’re organizers — we understand both the power and the appeal of relying on the voterfile to chart your path to victory. After all, the work might still be hard, but when we look to the voterfile, we know exactly who we need to talk to and what about we need to talk to them about to win.
But here’s the thing — a lot of potential voters aren’t in the voterfile. In fact, as many as 11% of the voting-age population is simply unlisted and an additional 12% are mislisted (meaning they don’t live at the address currently in the system). And while a quarter of voters missing or being mislisted is a lot, it actually doesn’t even tell the full story. As many as two in five members of the Black and Latinx communities are unreachable. TWO IN FIVE.
These communities are part of the Rising American Electorate — single women, people of color, and young people — and they are being ignored. During the 2016 election, there were almost 133 million eligible voters from within the Rising American Electorate, which is a whopping 59.2% of the entire US voting-eligible population! But this community made up just barely over half of the actual electorate.
We call these people who aren’t being engaged through voterfile lists the “politically invisible.”
They create a challenge for organizers but they also present an amazing opportunity. If you currently live in a swing district, with seats getting regularly decided by just a point or two, there may be tens of thousands of people who can be engaged and empowered to vote. With the right strategy and investment, your swing district could become a blowout.
But how do we find the “politically invisible?”
We can get beyond the voterfile through a Relational Organizing program.
Relational Organizing doesn’t ignore the voterfile, but it doesn’t rely on it either. Instead, successful RO programs train organizers to train volunteers who can then go out and talk to their friends and family about the issues that matter to them.
Cause here’s the real secret: while so many “politically invisible” members of our community aren’t in the voterfile, they are in the networks of the people you are already working with.
We worked with one of our partners, Voces de la Frontera, on implementing an RO program for them to engage their community. A new study from Analysis Institute shows that their “relational voter contact program appears to have increased overall turnout, with the effect being concentrated among those who did not match to the voterfile.” By implementing Relational Organizing, they increased turnout by 2.33%.
They empowered their community and that helped them achieve success.
We can’t win unless we’re all in.
Go to getempower.com to learn more and download a free demo today.