Why Voter Registration Drives Are Critical in 2012August 09, 2012
The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.
When political parties cannot persuade voters on the rightness of their policies and platforms, they often turn to suppressing voter turnout. One way they do this is through state voter-identification laws. Barrages of negative ads that turn off voters are another weapon in this arsenal.
Observers suggest that billions of dollars — much of it “dark money” of unknown origin — will be spent in the run-up to the 2012 election to convince fewer than 5 million swing voters in a handful of states to vote for one presidential candidate or the other. Because of our Electoral College system, the rest of the votes — and the remaining states — are effectively out of play.
What will make the difference — and not just in swing states — is a massive voter registration and education campaign coupled with making sure that proper IDs are in the hands of voters come Election Day.
It will make a difference in cities, towns, and counties; in state houses and governors’ mansions; and certainly in Congress and the White House. And not just in 2012 — this impact will be seen for generations to come.
This nation desperately needs an engaged electorate — one that reflects the full spectrum of age, gender, race, and economic, educational, and cultural diversity of our country.
We need an army of citizens who are willing to go door to door, street by street to register their neighbors and make sure that voters can get to the polls in November with a ride and a proper ID.
One terrific statewide example is Oregon’s The Bus Project, which “engages new folks in democracy, builds a great future, and empowers great people to lead it. … Democracy works better when more people do it, so we make that happen. We register voters — especially underrepresented folks like young people and people of color — all year round and help them get their ballots in come election time.”
AAUW members, states, and branches can be part of this citizen army that changes the political landscape of our nation for this election and for years to come. We have 89 days to go — get started now!
It is my vote — I will be heard, and I will make a difference!
This post was written by Donna Seymour, AAUW of New York public policy director and member of the AAUW St. Lawrence County (NY) Branch.