By Susan Secord, Boulder steering committee
Even before the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 emerged, CCL National had prioritized making the climate threat a central midterm election issue. They’ve encouraged us to write about it in the media, and to show up and ask climate-related questions at candidate forums throughout the election season. Our goal? Increase every candidate’s climate ambition.
Because CCL is nonpartisan, it doesn’t endorse candidates. But CCL National is encouraging us to volunteer with the nonpartisan Environmental Voter Project (EVP) to turn out the vote, specifically non-voting environmentalists. EVP’s executive director Nathaniel Stinnett spoke about their overall strategy and their plans for the midterm elections on CCL’s July national call. If you haven't watched it, please do!
EVP has a scientifically-based process of identifying non-voting environmentalists and then motivating them to become regular voters. According to their website, there were over 8 million environmentals who did not vote in the 2020 presidential election and over 12 million skipped the 2018 midterms. For the upcoming midterm, EVP is targeting 17 states (including Colorado!) and has identified 5.8 million non-voting environmentalists to call or canvas.
EVP makes it easy for volunteers. Their calling system is highly automated, and your identity and phone number are protected. Their computer automatically dials numbers until someone answers. EVP provides you with a carefully crafted and tested message to deliver, beginning with the simple question: “Do you plan to vote in the midterm election?” Your goal is not to persuade the voter about who to vote for. Only, that they vote. If they say yes, another volunteer will follow up closer to the election to remind them of their commitment to vote. Volunteers may also provide logistical information about re-registering, polling locations, etc.
A number of Colorado CCLers have volunteered with EVP in the past, and their experiences have been positive. David Kline, our state co-coordinator, says, “EVP's phone bank event exceeded my expectations. The training is quick and clear, and the phone software is efficient and easy to use. It's also fun to debrief with others, via Zoom, during and after calling.” Ginny Black, Longmont chapter leader, reports, ”Calling people is not my forte, yet I found this to be a good experience. The program was well organized and the process easy to follow. The group had a goal of a specific number to call and so it was a bit of a contest to see how quickly our group could reach our goal. That gave it a bit of an edge! There were many good conversations to be had!"
EVP says that Colorado has a significant number of environmentalists who are infrequent voters, especially with respect to midterm elections. But, if they can be persuaded to vote, climate is among their top issues in deciding how to vote.
Colorado also has significant numbers of inactive environmental voters (more than what is seen nationally). Many aren’t aware that they’ve been classified as inactive. They’ve been classified as inactive due to having moved, and/or they haven’t voted in several years. Unless corrected, inactive status in a mail-in ballot state like Colorado can prevent the voter from receiving a mailed ballot and can be a barrier to voting. But with early notice and knowing what steps to take, it’s easily corrected.
Our Colorado CCL state coordinators are working with EVP to schedule two statewide events to call inactive Colorado voters who are environmentalists. Most likely these will be in late August to early September. Then, in October to early November before the midterms, CCL members will be encouraged to join EVP for its national phone banking events focused on Colorado environmentalists who are infrequent voters, including a history of not voting in midterm elections. EVP trains all new volunteer callers at the beginning of each phone bank event.
With the impacts of global heating becoming more severe every year, the window of opportunity to take major national climate action is closing. In order to pass and defend national climate legislation, we need more Members of Congress who prioritize responding to this threat. From now until the November 8th midterm election, please consider volunteering with EVP to turn out environmental voters in Colorado, and across the country.
Watch or listen to EVP Executive Director Nathanial Stinnett’s presentation.
Go to the Environmental Voter Project and get involved.
Watch for an email soon on how you can participate in two Colorado CCL/EVP statewide events. Questions? Contact our state co-coordinators Susan Campbell, David Kline, or Jim Hooton.