Relational Voter Program (RVP) – Overview
When you want information about an issue or a candidate during an election, what information do you rely on? An ad you see on TV or hear on the radio? A flyer that you receive in the mail? A robocall message? A leaflet in your door?
How about in conversations with a trusted colleague, family member, or friend?
Voters trust information from people they know. To win this recall election, we need to engage in high quality voter contacts – family-to-family, friend-to-friend, neighbor-to-neighbor.
One way to take advantage of your status as a frequent and informed voter is to participate in this Relational Voter Program (RVP). MTI is simply asking that you identify 5 to 10 friends, neighbors or family members to discuss the effect that Scott Walker’s policies are having on our schools and state, and make sure that they get out and vote.
How does it work? It’s easy and you can do it at your own pace.
Step 1 – Decide to give the relational voter program a try:
Agree to participate and turn out 5 to 10 family, friends, and neighbors to vote in the recall elections.
Step 2: Make your list – Identify 5 – 10 voters you know and can contact about the recall election:
Make a physical list of 5 to 10 people (see template) that you agree to work with over the course of the next 45 days. If you already have ten people in mind, that’s great! If not, see the following list of questions that will help you identify people in your social network that you could reach out to about the recall. Ideally, select people you feel you can have some influence on getting them to vote or to educate them about why the recall is important.
Step 3: Have an initial conversation with each of your voters:
- Learn about their perspective on the election and likelihood that they will vote to recall Walker.
- Did they sign the recall petition?
- Are they registered and do they plan to vote in the recall election?
- Do they vote in every election, only in the big ones or do they rarely vote?
- Are they actively supporting a candidate?
- What issues does the voter care about?
- Do they understand what Walker’s budget is doing to the state of Wisconsin?
Step 4 – Follow up conversations (inform, persuade, and assist):
Have at least one follow-up conversation with each of your voters one or two weeks before the election. MTI will provide additional information and resources that you can use for these conversations, but essentially, it will be a casual conversation reminding them about the election date and the reasons to remove Walker.
Step 5 – Get Out the Vote:
Make an election day plan and follow up with your contacts to ensure they have voted. You can even go with others to the polls or arrange to vote early as a group.
If you agree to participate in this voter turnout effort, please let your building MTI Faculty Representative and/or Jeff Knight know.
To facilitate this, we can send you periodic emails with information and resources you can use, if you choose, when talking to your family, friends or neighbors. This will include information about the election timeline, voting requirements, Scott Walker’s record on important issues and the candidates.
Why the Relational Voter Program?
High Voter Turnout is the Key. Wisconsin has a history of close elections—even more so in recent years. In 2010, two key Assembly seats were lost by less than 100 votes with over 21,000 votes cast in each race. Our state is also divided when it comes to Scott Walker. Therefore, high voter turnout will be the key to our electoral success.
We know that in any gubernatorial election, generally only 50% of the eligible electorate votes. When asked why they don’t vote, the top reasons people give are because they don’t think their vote matters or they feel that don’t know enough about the issues or the candidates. Using the Relational Voter Program, we can educate family, friends, and neighbors about the importance and critical issues in this election—giving them the information they need to engage in the democratic process and head to the polls. This is especially crucial for new and sporadic voters.
Relational Voter Programs Work. In the recent state senate recall elections, allied groups like We Are Wisconsin learned that relational voter programs were reaching potential voters that don’t traditionally show up on voter rolls.
We also saw that friends, families and neighbors who were contacted through relational voter programs were 16% more likely to vote than nonparticipants!
Money Power vs. People Power. Scott Walker and his allies will raise large amounts of money in this election. They raised $12 million in 2011 – more than they spent on the entire campaign in 2010.
Money doesn’t vote—people do. The hard work and effort to remove Scott Walker and reverse the damage he has already done translated into nearly 1 million signatures. We have the people, we have the dedication and we have the motivation, but it will take each one of us doing our part to make this past year of struggle worth the pain and effort.
Walker will be backed by the wealthy, the elite, and new age Robber Barons like the Koch Brothers. Every conservative political activist in the country is pouring resources into his campaign, but we have the numbers if we can just get them to vote.
By personally reaching out to your network, you can make a difference!
Sample Questions to Help You Generate Your List
If you hosted a summer BBQ – who would you invite?
Who are the parents of your children’s friends?
Who are the parents on your child’s soccer/t-ball/swim team?
Who do you see at high school sporting events?
Who chats with you after church?
What family members or friends do you think forget to vote?
What family members or friends of family are new voters?
If you got married tomorrow, who would you invite?
Who participates in your book club, knitting group, or softball team?
Who goes to your dog park?
Who do you enjoy chatting with at the gym?
What neighbors might need help to the polls?
Who are your Facebook friends?
Who are the contacts in your cell phone / e-mail?
Who do you send Holiday Cards to?
Who do you keep in touch with from high school or college?
Who do you run into at your local coffee shop?
Who are you always happy to run into in the grocery store?
Relational Voter Program:
The Initial Conversation
In our first conversation we want to learn the following:
Does your voter know about the election and is he or she planning to vote? Does she/he know about the changes to voting requirements? Does she/he need additional information about Voter ID, voter registration, early or absentee voting? Do they know where their polling location is? What issues are of importance to him/her during this election? Has he/she decided who she/he is voting for? If so, who?
If helpful, you can use the My Voters Form to keep track of your voters, and the conversations you have with them throughout this program. These forms can help you remember your voters’ primary issues and any questions that they have.
- This is an opportunity for us to help our friends, family and neighbors learn more about the election, issues that are important to them, and what they need to do to fulfill the new voting requirements. We will also be helping those who might not feel comfortable voting in this election (due to a lack of information about candidates or issues) engage in the democratic process.
- We should spend the majority of these conversations listening to what our family, friends and neighbors have to say about this election. We want to educate them and listening will help us understand what issues and information are important to them.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question that may arise regarding an issue or some election detail, it’s always okay to say “I don’t know” and follow-up with your faculty representative or MTI Staff. To obtain more information about issues, you can visit http://www.madisonteachers.org to find links to information or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Check-in Chat
Follow up a week or two before election-day to ‘check-in’ about how your much your voters are paying attention or what their questions might be about the opposition candidate. Ensure that they still plan to vote. If they seem sure about their intentions, that’s great. Feel free to engage as much as you are comfortable with your voters at this point.
Get out the Vote
On election day (June 5), give your voters a call to verify that they voted, particularly if you feel they might need a gentle reminder.