Get Out the Vote 2012: Program Ideas
This post is part our weekly Get Out the Vote 2012 series, focusing on ways to promote civic engagement in your Jewish community and highlighting portions from the RAC’s Get Out the Vote 2012 guide. Check back every Monday for new updates.
Coordinating a successful Get Out the Vote effort requires creativity and advanced planning. Use the below program tips and ideas to get started!
Voter Registration Drive
By hosting a registration drive, you can demystify the registration process, focus communal energy on the privilege and responsibility of voting, and provide information to plan a successful voter engagement effort in advance of Election Day.
Send copies of the local voter registration form or the National Mail-In Voter Registration Form to all members of your congregation or organization, focusing particular attention on new members, high school seniors, college students and elderly and disabled citizens.
- Work with the local Board of Elections to train volunteers to register voters.
- Set up a voter registration table in a high-traffic, prominent location in the synagogue or community center. Be sure to have plenty of registration forms, knowledgeable volunteers and pens!
- Work with local civic engagement organizations to register voters in underrepresented neighborhoods.
- Decorate with red, white and blue streamers, balloons and handmade posters asking people to register to vote. (This is also a great way to get young children involved!)
It is our civic duty to educate ourselves about critical issues. Hosting an “Issue Night” is an opportunity to discuss diverse topics of interest to your community, and help voters make informed decisions based upon the issues that speak most strongly to them.
- Pick an issue that is important to your community and congregation: climate change, education, stem cell research, equal rights, health care, Darfur, Iran, Iraq, immigration, or others. Be sure to present the issue objectively, fully and in a non-partisan manner.
- Include an introduction by a rabbi or Jewish communal leader to provide content and explain why the issue is important to the Jewish community, without endorsing one policy position or candidate over another.
- Invite people to speak on both sides of the issue. Presenters may be local, state or federal advocates, non-profit professionals, academics or others with expertise in the policy area under discussion.
Become informed about the policy positions of the candidates running for office in order to make intelligent choices in the voting booths. Candidate forums allow community members to learn about the positions of the candidates on a range of topics from the candidates themselves. Here are some tips for planning your own candidate forum:
- Invite candidates well in advance to ensure they can add it to their campaign schedules.
- Invite all candidates who are running for a particular office; don’t neglect county or municipal elections. Special care should be taken to include minor party candidates.
- When introducing the event, be sure to state that the congregation or organization does not endorse candidates, whose views are their own and do not represent the sponsoring organization.
- Choose a non-partisan, knowledgeable moderator. Give all candidates equal time during introductions, Q & A, and concluding remarks.
- Publicize in the local community.
- Prepare questions in advance on a wide variety of issues.
For more on the legal guidelines for hosting a candidate forum at your congregation, see The Do’s and Don’ts of Pulpit Politics: Rules for Nonprofits: Candidates Forums.
To learn more about how your congregation or organization can promote civic engagement this election season, download your copy of the RAC’s Get Out the Vote 2012 guide now at www.rac.org/vote.