Ever since the 2016 Presidential election ended in November, pollsters and pundits have been focusing on 2018 midterm elections. Yes, it may seem it a little early but time goes by quickly. However, a new study released by the nonprofit group, The Voter Participation Center, has some concerning news for those election hawks. They are predicting that “40 million Americans who voted in 2016 won’t cast a ballot in the 2018 midterms—and to make matters worse, 2/3 of those drop-off voters will be members of the Rising American Electorate (RAE).”
The RAE is the largest block of eligible voters, comprised of unmarried women, millennials, and people of color. As an unmarried woman, I’m part of this group but I must be an exception. In light of recent news and unrelenting Congressional partisanship, part of me can’t say I blame them for not wanting to cast a ballot. However, I would argue that, because of recent headlines, our lawmakers need to do more. Amidst the continual calls to defund programs that help our communities to thrive, and because of the increased need for job-training and employment services, our voices and votes are needed now more than ever. Your vote is a representation of your voice and opens the door for other ways for you to be engaged and create a relationship with your lawmakers.
Nonprofits should take heed of the information in this report, especially since they are largely reliant upon grassroots advocates who want to be engaged and share their stories about how a particular policy will impact them, their families, and community. Nonprofits reach people missed by traditional campaigns, contributing to an electorate that more fully represents the communities we serve. Voter engagement not only gives power and voice to the people we serve, but it also assists in giving nonprofits a seat at the table. Elected officials pay attention to who votes. When nonprofit stakeholders engage, organizations can be given more clout and our issues can be given more attention.
As we get closer to the next wave of campaigns and the headlines are dominated by new polls, let’s hope that we can look back on this study and say that the Rising American Electorate rose to the challenge.