CCLers connect with climate voters
By Flannery Winchester
Election Day is just two weeks from now. Many CCL volunteers are voting early and sharing snapshots of themselves with the hashtag #ClimateVoter. We’ve loved seeing you participate in democracy in this way!
Over the past few months, CCL volunteers have also been working with the Environmental Voter Project (EVP) to encourage other people who care about the climate to cast their ballots. More than 50 different chapters have reported participating in voter outreach with EVP. “CCL volunteers have been such valuable assets on our team so far this year,” says Shannon Seigal, EVP’s Organizing Director.
We heard from three volunteers in the San Mateo, California, chapter about their experience with EVP and their motivations for getting involved.
Increasing voter turnout
For volunteers like Courtney Parks, the simple fact of increasing voter turnout was compelling. “Low turnout is one reason that elected officials don’t represent citizens’ interests,” Courtney points out. “EVP’s mission to increase voter turnout, particularly of environmentally minded people, resonated with me. My calls are a powerful action to provide people with information to make the voting process easier and safer.”
Courtney also likes EVP’s nonpartisan approach to voter turnout work. “I’m speaking as a pro-voting volunteer rather than speaking on behalf of a candidate,” she says, calling it “less stressful.”
Making a difference at any age
“Since I’m still a minor, I can’t vote,” says Ruby Lawrence, another California CCLer. “That made me feel impotent, powerless to make a difference on an issue that will affect my peers and me for the rest of our lives. But phone banking with EVP allowed me to join a group of likeminded people who shared my concerns, and afforded me the opportunity to make an impact.”
Ruby adds, “Climate change is one of those issues that keeps me up at night. I am grateful for the (relative) peace of mind phone banking gives me, and for the lovely people I have met while doing it.”
Working together as a chapter
Kathleen Goforth started texting for the Environmental Voter Project a little over a year ago. “I actually found the texting fun,” she says. “EVP makes it very easy, and I saw how providing basic information about registration deadlines, polling locations, how to vote by mail, etc., could be so helpful in overcoming some of the barriers and inertia that sometimes keep people from voting.”
The San Mateo chapter quickly realized voter outreach is even more enjoyable with friends. Kathleen says, “My friend Ellyn, a fellow CCL volunteer, said she would feel more motivated to do phone banking on a regular basis if we had a local group all doing it at the same time each week and tracked our numbers. I thought that might help me stay motivated, too, so I committed to join her (virtually) every Tuesday afternoon.”
“Phone banking takes patience,” Kathleen admits, but connecting with potential voters is really fulfilling. “The calls I enjoy the most are the ones to young people who may be eligible to vote for the first time (gotta catch ‘em early and instill the habit of voting!); the women who enthusiastically tell me they will share the information I’ve provided with everyone in their families; and the elderly people who can be utterly delightful to talk with and are so grateful to have someone answer their questions.”
Can you take a phone banking shift?
So far, EVP’s results have been very encouraging: almost 100,000 of the first-time environmental voters they’re targeting in 12 states have already voted! That includes 37,299 first-time voters in Florida, 11,529 in North Carolina, 8,013 in Pennsylvania, and 8,131 in Georgia.
There is still time left in this home stretch for you to join EVP’s activities and help turn out even more climate voters. The Environmental Voter Project is hoping to fill over 9,000 phone banking volunteer shifts from Friday, Oct. 30 through Tuesday, Nov. 3.
“We plan to call all of our voters as many times as we can to get as many people as possible out to the polls,” Shannon explains. “We’ll also have information on a recommended voter protection hotline in case we reach any voters facing issues voting.”
Whether you’re already trained with EVP or you’re a brand new volunteer, you will need to sign up for and commit to certain volunteer shifts. EVP will offer brief trainings on Zoom at the beginning of each shift, or you can attend CCL’s version of the training on Oct. 29 (details here). Once you’re trained, you can jump right into calling. Sign up on EVP’s website here.
Don’t forget, Kathleen says: “Elections can be won by very slim margins, so every voter counts!”
To learn more about Environmental Voter Project, hear from their director Nathaniel Stinnett on CCL’s April 2020 monthly call.