September 30, 2019

It's All About Voter Turnout

by Mary Ann Balko-Koch, DAA member and former Database Manager

I feel very passionate about voter turnout! The problem we as Dems need to concentrate/focus on IS TURNOUT! #1 issue as far as I’m concerned. We need to make sure that people actually go out and vote! 

In 2010 I was lucky enough to be on one of the Huffington Post buses to go to the John Stewart rally in Washington DC. This event was shortly before the midterm elections that year.  As I asked the young people on the bus line around me if they were all voting on the following Tuesday, I received many excuses as to why they weren’t - they were studying in NY from another state, they had to work that day, they had just moved to NY, etc..  I knew right then and there that we were going to lose the midterm elections. When Obama came out and said that we got shellacked in the midterm elections, I took his word for it. BUT (years later it was clear) we didn’t! According to a pew research poll, only 37% of the voting age population came out and voted. 

I think Obama handled this poorly at the time. Imagine if he had come out and said the following, “The Republicans are going to tell you that we got shellacked in these midterm elections. Don’t you believe them. Only 37% of you showed up to vote! Where were the rest of you? I thought you had my back! Folks, democracy can’t survive on 63% of you not showing up and participating in this process!” Then, maybe voters would have been aware of how few people vote and how important voting is, especially in the midterm elections. Maybe voter apathy could have been avoided in 2016. (You can’t fight what you’re not aware of.)

We can contact every Democrat on the planet in a GOTV campaign but if they don’t show up to vote, our efforts are useless.

Here are more statistics where it’s all about voter TURNOUT - 

AOC vs Crowley in 2018 primary - after all votes in, 11.8% turnout decided this primary.

Doug Jones vs Roy Moore

This, for me, says it all as far as turnout goes - 25% turnout was expected, 40% showed up

Most recently - NC9 2018 votes for McCready vs 2019 votes for McCready.

Almost 100,000 vote difference in the number of voters who turned out to vote in the special election.  If McCready had only received the same number of votes as in 2018, he would have won.

We can contact every Democrat on the planet in a GOTV campaign but if they don’t show up to vote, our efforts are useless. We need to do a better job of educating voters in the following ways:

  1. Don’t pay attention to polls!
  2. Register/request an absentee ballot on January 2, 2020. Get ahead of state deadlines. 
  3. Once a candidate is nominated then all money and effort goes into GOTV as well as education: 
    1. register those not yet registered
    2. educate people on where their polling places are, how are they getting there (carpooling?), voting buddies, voting rights, especially if someone tries to turn them away from the polls (what can they do?) 
    3. absentee ballots, special elections
    4. stress TURNOUT, TURNOUT, TURNOUT!! Our focus has to be on turnout - aim for 100% and maybe we will get 65%.
  4. IGNORE the polls!! IGNORE the pundits!! Don’t take anything for granted and Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!

In 2016 the turnout for both R & D primaries/caucuses was 28%.

When almost 3/4 of eligible voters do not participate in the democratic process, it's no wonder that people are dissatisfied with the choice of their candidates come the general election. Somehow they don’t realize that it’s their own fault when they don’t participate in the process.

Maybe we need to offer courses - Civics 101!