By Todd Thurwachter:
When Democrats vote, we win. And in Virginia, we vote every year! That’s why Fairfax County Democrats have put into place tools like Voting: What you Need to Know and Elections Alerts. They can make a huge difference in fighting the biggest impediment to Democratic victories: Democratic drop-off in non-Presidential elections.
Voting: What you Need to Know is a handy gripcard with essential voting information on managing one’s voter registration, voting early, finding one’s polling place – just about everything one needs to know to register and vote successfully. Election Alerts emails voters before each election with updated information, including the Voting: What you Need to Know gripcard, harnessing the power of social media to maximize reach to even more voters.
This year, Fairfax Democrats are taking aim at the 40% of our voters who often don’t show up to vote in non-Presidential years. We stress the dire consequences of not voting with powerful stories that motivate our voters to take action:
* In 2010, 26 million of Barack Obama’s 69 million 2008 voters didn’t vote and Dems lost control of Congress, effectively killing Obama’s program of Hope & Change.
* That same 2010 Democratic drop-off enabled Republicans to sweep state houses and pull off the worst nationwide gerrymandering in history. That hit home– in 2012, Democrats won only 3 of Virginia’s 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives even though Tim Kaine won his Senate race by 6%!
* Last year, a single vote in VA’s 94th District assured continued Republican control of VA’s House of Delegates, allowing Republicans to keep blocking even debate of Democratic bills.
If those three dire consequences can’t get Democrats motivated to vote, what can? But convincing voters to vote in every election is just half the battle — we need to make sure they actually cast their votes, successfully. And that’s where Voting: What you Need to Know is so critical. After all, voting in Virginia isn’t always easy. Most voters don’t know they can register to vote or update their voter registration record online at www.vote.virginia.gov. No need to waste time at the DMV.
Early voting technically doesn’t even exist in Virginia: voters must qualify to vote “absentee in-person.” Many voters can qualify but don’t know how. They can be intimidated and confused by 20 qualifying reasons written in “bureaucratese.”
That is why the Voting: What you Need to Know gripcard simplifies and streamlines early voting by highlighting the top qualifying reasons in easy-to-understand language that our voters connect with.
These gripcards work: In LuAnn Bennett’s 2016 campaign against Barbara Comstock in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, use of gripcards in canvassing in Fairfax County precincts helped increase early voting in those precincts by 44% — and LuAnn won that early vote by 29%!
Election Alerts are proven too. Last year, voters who received Elections Alerts and forwarded them to friends and family helped the Democratic-endorsed candidate, Karen Keys Gamarra, win an at-large seat on the Fairfax County School Board in a special election that most voters weren’t even aware of.
Discover the huge difference you can make just by signing up for Election Alerts yourself. We find that the more reliable and committed you are as a voter, the more powerful your appeal to others when you forward Election Alerts to them, empowering them with essential updated voting information before every election.
So join our grass roots social media campaign by signing up for Election Alerts now. Just click here (it only takes a minute): Together, we can defeat Democratic drop-off all across Northern Virginia. When Democrats vote, we win – now more than ever!
Note: In-person early voting begins Sept. 21 at Government Centers and Oct. 13 at satellite locations (nine in Fairfax ), every day but Sundays, until Sat., Nov 3. For times & locations across all northern Virginia, visit www.fairfaxdemocrats.org/voting, then click on Early Voting. Voting: What you Need to Know and Election Alerts are also featured in Spanish, in gripcards and online.
Todd Thurwachter, a retired Foreign Service Officer, has canvassed since returning from Beijing in 2009, serving since 2013 on the FCDC Voter Registration & Education Committee. He is a member of Providence District Democratic Committee.