The promise of American opportunity for every child will not be achieved with national voter turnout at 36% - the turnout for 2014 elections.   


Voters First puts voters at the center of our campaigns with effective grassroots organizing and a commitment to increase voter turnout. Using collaboration and best practices, Voters First aims for a resurgence of civic participation to take back the states and the Congress.  

Progressives face steep hurdles. The Koch Brothers plan to spend $900 million to try and buy the next presidential election. Democrats have lost 910 state legislative seats since 2008 and have only 18 governors. In 2012, Congressional Democrats won 1.5 million more votes than Republicans, but lost seats in Congress due to Republican domination of district maps. The path back to Democratic leadership in Congress requires building grassroots electoral power in states and cities over the next several electoral cycles, anticipating the 2020 census and redistricting. 

The promise of opportunity for every child will not be achieved with voter turnout at 36%, as in 2014. Every person who cares about good jobs and wages, protecting and expanding Social Security and Medicare, combating climate change, affordable college education, immigration reform, or undoing Citizen’s United must demand candidates and campaigns that engage volunteers and boost voter turnout to elect progressives at every level.


Candidates running for office should: 

  1. Increase voter turnout:  To support your own candidacy and other progressives on the ballot, set a goal to boost turnout by three to seven percent over the last comparable election (2016 compared with 2012); set separate turnout goals for new and infrequent voters.
  2. Make a significant investment in field organizing:  Relying on data, budget a sufficient amount for field organizing to reach the turnout goals set by the campaign.  
  3. Partner with other campaigns:  Work closely with other federal, state, and local campaigns on the ballot to increase turnout for all candidates, which could include investing in a coordinated campaign effort.     
  4. Use best practices to achieve effective field organizing:  Build a robust volunteer organization and ensure all canvassers – paid or unpaid – are well trained; start field organizing early; promote high-quality, face-to-face conversations; contact more voters fewer times, instead of fewer voters more times; and register new voters.
  5. Pursue grassroots low donor fundraising:  Set a goal to raise 25% or more of contributions from low-dollar grassroots donors – whether online, by mail, or through house parties – to broaden your campaign stakeholders and promote deeper engagement in the campaign. 
  6. Work to make it easier to register and to vote:  Publicly support efforts to encourage voter participation (e.g. early voting, same day registration, vote by mail, online voting, restoring voting rights to those who have served their time, and automatic youth pre-registration) and oppose efforts aimed at voter suppression (e.g. voter ID, restricting early voting).
“We need a renaissance of civic engagement…to make voter turnout a fundamental core value.”
— Rep. Keith Ellison


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