Editorial Note: This guest blog post was written by Elizabeth Brown, Vice President of Program, League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area
Every election year Leagues across the country work hard to educate and serve voters, typically through voter registration activities, online and printed voters’ guides, candidate and issue debates and forums, and election observer programs. This year, the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area will be doing even more. The Cincinnati League is spearheading a voter engagement campaign to reach registered voters in Cincinnati directly about the upcoming primary election and to encourage their participation.
During presidential years when there is usually increased excitement and turnout for the general election, excitement around the primary election remains dishearteningly low despite the important impact the primaries have on local elections and who ultimately competes for the White House. The Cincinnati League is addressing the gap between primary and general election turnout by directly contacting registered voters to encourage them to exercise their right to vote as well as to provide election resources, such as VOTE411.org, in advance of the March 15 primary. The Cincinnati League and the League of Women Voters of Ohio also have been fighting to protect voters’ rights for many years. Confusion around voter ID and the primary process can keep voters home. We’re calling our neighbors and community members to ensure as many voters as possible are receiving the election information and reminders they need.
Working with a cadres of volunteers, including those from partner organizations like the local NAACP, youth and college groups, and the AKA sorority, the Cincinnati League has already reached out to thousands of infrequent voters! Voter contact calls, like ours, routinely prove to be successful in turning out occasional voters who need the reminders and encouragement to make it to the polls on Election Day. We plan to contact over 30,000 voters by phone in our community before the primary to share polling locations, provide early voting information and ensure that every voters has at least one of the acceptable forms of voter ID.
Showing new voters the ropes and providing them with the information they need is a key way to engage them and ensure their future participation in our political process. Getting an individual to the polls once is a critical first step – turning a person into a habitual voter and civic participator is the ultimate goal. The good news is that once a new voter has turned out, s/he is more likely to vote in the future!
Primary elections are a key part of the process to select the next President. They provide a crucial opportunity for voters to take control and influence the process by selecting their top candidate to represent a political party in the general election. The Cincinnati League is excited to help engage voters across out community to turn out on Election Day and strengthen democracy through increased civic participation.