The finalists for the Effective Member Engagement Power the Vote Award showed their commitment to building their League while engaging the community. Leagues focused on their energy on the voters in their community by being visible and increasing membership—old and new—at their events.
We received so many excellent applications this year and we want to thank and commend all Leagues for their outstanding and innovative program work. The chosen finalists were among the best of the applicants. Please read about their projects below and use the grid to rank them in order of your favorite project.
Winners will be announced at the 2012 Convention at the Banquet on June 11, 2012.
The League of Women Voters of Saint Paul organized five projects to keep members engaged, increase volunteers and recruitment. Member engagement efforts included relocating monthly meetings to senior housing and civic hosting to increase accessibility and promote participation of inactive members. Other initiatives included Ranked Voting presentations at community events, Smart Chick Happy hour, well-publicized candidate forums and voter registration outreach to students, elderly, general community and minorities.
The League of Women Voters of Saint Paul's election related work impacted membership recruitment by creating a heightened presence in the community and in the local media. Partnerships with community organizations successfully recruited new volunteers as well as familiar faces that have not been active in the last few years. In addition the LWV of Saint Paul increased youth visibility by partnering with colleges to provide scholarships for college students to attend in the LWV-MN leadership seminar. In order to receive the scholarship students were required to volunteer or intern with the League. Offering scholarships in partnership with college has recruited interns and possibly future Leaguers.
Over the past 15 years the League of Women Voters Minnesota has been an active presence at citizenship ceremonies. Since 2006, the League has increased their efforts by helping future citizens fill out voter registration forms and collecting completed voter registration forms when they officially became citizens. In 2011, the League of Minnesota registered over 9,000 new voters at 75 ceremonies in over 100 counties. Voter registration at citizenship ceremonies has empowered both new voters and LWV members. New citizens are enthusiastic about the opportunity to vote and local Leagues have re-energized both new members and active members through their work.
In response to the effectiveness of their presence at naturalization ceremonies, LWVMN notes: “one measure of success is the number of times we are asked if our picture may be taken with a family member or friend as they turn in their voter registration form.” For their efforts LWVMN has been recognized by the African Development Council, the Latino Business Council and the Secretary of State. As a result of their participation in citizenship ceremonies and larger participation in teaching citizens and “not yet-citizens” how they can be involved in democracy, the League is seen as organization which is comfortable with the immigrant community and fosters civic engagement.
The League of Voters of Palm Beach County (PBC) went to new heights to promote the importance of voting and increase visibility of League. The League organized an event entitled “Jump for the Vote” as the kickoff to the League’s Voter Service Initiative “Jump into Election Year.” On January 28, 2012 four members of the Palm Beach County League ages 50 to 70, including the PBC Clerk and Comptroller participated in a tandem skydive. The skydive was aimed to “attract the attention of the media, voters and prospective voters in Palm Beach County and to make them aware that the League of PBC believed unequivocally in the privilege, responsibility and importance of voting!” They reached members of the community by effectively using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
The event saw immediate impact as the local television and print media featured coverage of “Jump for the Vote” for two days which increased visibility of the League, voter education and outreach initiatives. The “Jump for the Vote” also created enthusiasm among the PBC community. As a result, The Palm Beach County League has seen an increase in membership, member engagement and public attendance at their events.
In order to effectively engage the members of the League of Women Voters of Westport Connecticut, they organized a project entitled “My Town, My Vote.” My Town, My Vote was a unified and coordinated effort in the months leading up to the November 2011 local elections. The objective of the project was to raise awareness about the importance of voting in Westport elections and to increase voter turnout in local elections. The project was multifaceted, including a series of press releases, an informational brochure, an eye catching logo, attendance at major town events and public places, and voter outreach to new voters and local high schools.
Member engagement efforts also featured a documentary video produced by two members which highlights the impact of local issues on town citizens and how voting and being involved can influence these local issues. Aside from community outreach the My Town, My Vote was a great opportunity to involve new/less active members in the chance to facilitate the visibility of the LWV in the local community and become acquainted with other local LWV members. Furthermore, the Chairs of the Democratic and Republican Town committee were active participants in planning the campaign and are now more involved in League activities as members.