CCLers connect with climate voters

CCL volunteers are sharing their #ClimateVoter snapshots on social media and reaching out to other potential climate voters through the Environmental Voter Project.

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. Weโ€™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. โ€œCCL volunteers have been such valuable assets on our team so far this year,โ€ says Shannon Seigal, EVPโ€™s Organizing Director.ย 

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. โ€œLow turnout is one reason that elected officials don’t represent citizens’ interests,โ€ Courtney points out. โ€œEVP’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.โ€

Courtney also likes EVPโ€™s nonpartisan approach to voter turnout work. โ€œI’m speaking as a pro-voting volunteer rather than speaking on behalf of a candidate,โ€ she says, calling it โ€œless stressful.โ€ย 

Making a difference at any age

โ€œSince Iโ€™m still a minor, I canโ€™t vote,โ€ says Ruby Lawrence, another California CCLer. โ€œThat 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.โ€ย 

Ruby adds, โ€œClimate 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.โ€

Working together as a chapter

Kathleen Goforth started texting for the Environmental Voter Project a little over a year ago. โ€œI actually found the texting fun,โ€ she says. โ€œEVP 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.โ€

The San Mateo chapter quickly realized voter outreach is even more enjoyable with friends. Kathleen says, โ€œMy 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.โ€

โ€œPhone banking takes patience,โ€ Kathleen admits, but connecting with potential voters is really fulfilling. โ€œThe calls I enjoy the most are the ones to young people who may be eligible to vote for the first time (gotta catch โ€˜em early and instill the habit of voting!); the women who enthusiastically tell me they will share the information Iโ€™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.โ€

Can you take a phone banking shift?

So far, EVPโ€™s results have been very encouraging: almost 100,000 of the first-time environmental voters theyโ€™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 EVPโ€™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.ย 

โ€œWe plan to call all of our voters as many times as we can to get as many people as possible out to the polls,โ€ Shannon explains. โ€œWe’ll also have information on a recommended voter protection hotline in case we reach any voters facing issues voting.โ€

Whether youโ€™re already trained with EVP or youโ€™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 EVPโ€™s website here.

Donโ€™t forget, Kathleen says: โ€œElections can be won by very slim margins, so every voter counts!โ€

To learn more about Environmental Voter Project, hear from their director Nathaniel Stinnett on CCLโ€™s April 2020 monthly call.ย 

Flannery Winchester
Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.