Our Overall Strategy
Studies have shown that most traditional methods of encouraging the vote have little or no impact on increasing voter turnout, including advertising, robocalls, and professional phone banks. In addition, phone banks composed of volunteers and social media posts have been found to have marginal impact, if any. Where they have been effective is in reaching those with whom the caller or poster has an established relationship (e.g. real friends, not just "followers" on Facebook, Twitter, etc.). The most effective means of increasing voting is canvassing door-to-door (not just literature drops) where volunteers engage in real conversations with residents. Since door-to-door canvassing is not an option at this time, we are recommending the use of letters and phone calls that do more than ask people to vote.
Since UUs often talk about building Beloved Community, now is our chance! We should be contacting potential voters and truly engaging them in discussions that include the importance of elections in general and of voting in particular. The UU Advocacy Network of Illinois (UUANI), the counterpart of UULM-MD in that state, is currently conducting training on what is called "deep canvassing" to teach people how to engage with voters, listen to their stories and opinions, and encourage participation in the democratic process.
We hope to be offering similar training shortly, but in the meantime, we are asking UUs to reach out to everyone they know and practice this kind of conversation. Specifically, we are suggesting that UUs talk to everyone in their contact list to:
Find out how they are and what they may need (then connect them with those who can meet their needs)
Encourage participation in the census
Emphasize the importance of the upcoming elections to hold our leaders accountable, and
Ask if they can continue to touch base in the coming months to maintain the conversation.
The last part is crucial since it could give us opportunities to engage in relational organizing, doing deeper dives about our shared values and building community. After developing these skills with people we know, we can then reach out beyond our circle of family and friends to engage potential voters (e.g. using lists provided by movement partners such as VoteForward, Reclaim Our vote, or State Voices).
Direct, personal contact, and developing relationships with potential voters is essential to the success of these efforts.