Get Out the Vote 2012: What Role Will You Play?
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.
On November 6, millions of American Jews will join their fellow citizens in heading to the polls to vote in a crucial election. But while Jewish voter turnout has been strong in recent years, there remain countless young, elderly, disabled, or disenfranchised Jews who do not vote. We’ve developed our Get Out the Vote 2012 Guide to help ameliorate this trend in congregations and Jewish communities across the country.But GOTV 2012 is not just a packet of program ideas and organizing guidelines – it represents our larger commitment to our Jewish values that teach “Do not separate oneself from the community” (Hillel, Pirkei Avot 2:5). Furthermore, in Talmud B’rachot 55a, we are reminded that “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted,” illustrating the importance of many voices in choosing our leaders. Fast-forward from Talmudic times and we still find that today, every vote counts, playing a key role in setting leadership and policy agendas. And with issues such as reproductive rights, economic justice and recovery, and marriage equality taking center stage in electoral politics, your synagogue plays a vital role in going above and beyond voter registration; for example, congregations can host “Issue Nights” to promote dialogue and understanding of the complex moral, economic, and strategic questions voters will be considering when checking a box in November.
What seems like a ways away is now an election just around the corner. We’re re-posting our GOTV timeline below to help you guide your congregation’s or organization’s engagement with the upcoming election. Suggested activities, program tips and sample materials for all the items listed can be found by clicking on the links below or by browsing the Get Out the Vote 2012 Guide. This year, what role will you play to help Get Out the Vote?
- Form a voter registration/education taskforce.
- Begin planning a candidate forum. Extend invitations to all legally qualified candidates as soon as possible.
- Begin planning “issue nights” to educate members in a non-partisan way about important policy issues. Learn more about how current election politics influencing conversations about key issues such as economic justice, reproductive rights, and marriage equality on our “Focus on the Issues” series.
- Check out your state’s rules and deadlines for registration and absentee voting on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s “State-by-State Guide.”
- Contact your congregation’s and community’s college students to remind them to register at their new address or obtain absentee ballots.
- Plan a date to help your community members who are homebound or in nursing homes register to vote and/or complete their absentee ballots.
- Hold a voter registration drive. Set up a table during special community events, the first day of religious school, and other “high traffic” times.
- Place an ad/article in your synagogue, community or organizational bulletin or newsletter reminding people to vote.
- Coordinate transportation to the polls.
- Ask your rabbi to give a non-partisan D’var Torah on the importance of civic participation and voting.
- Send out postcards and/or coordinate a phone drive reminding people to vote.
- Call college students and community members on November 5 to remind them of the election.
- Vote on November 6!
- Host a party or gathering to watch the results come in.
- Invite speakers to discuss policy implications of the elections.
- Plan a “Meet-and-Greet” with newly elected officials
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.