Help Your Supporters Vote Their A$$es Off By Creating a Voter Education and Advocacy Strategy
If you care about issues like healthy and age-appropriate sex education, safe and legal abortion, or access to birth control, use the power of your organization’s voice to educate people on the issues and motivate people to get to the polls in order to mitigate future harmful reproductive health policies. As a 501(c)3, maybe you’re worried about overstepping the line between nonprofit and lobbyist. Or maybe your organization just “doesn’t do advocacy.” In fact, you might be surprised about what your nonprofit can actually do as a 501(c)3. Yes, your organization can engage in advocacy. And it doesn’t have to be all that painful. Bolder Advocacy, a program of the Alliance for Justice, provides a wealth of resources on their site on how 501(c)3’s can undertake effective voting advocacy efforts. These include creating an organization-wide election policy; holding legislators accountable; supporting, opposing, or developing ballot initiatives; or simply educating the public – in a nonpartisan way, of course!
An educated voter can be your greatest advocate at the ballot box. Therefore, in this moment, nonprofits may want to take a more active role in civic engagement and voter advocacy.Below, find several national and local resources dedicated to better educating voters on reproductive justice issues. These guides provide a wide variety of information, including candidate stances, candidate endorsements, and local ballot initiatives.
#voteprochoice promises to help future voters “find the prochoice champions on [their] ballot.” According to the organization, they’ve collected endorsements and input from over 150 organizations to create their voter guide. Put your address into their online platform, and they’ll give you a “ballot” listing every contender for every race in your state. Checkmarks indicate which progressive organizations have endorsed a candidate as being prochoice. They also allow anyone who uses their system to share their sample ballot via social media.
Planned Parenthood Action has a comprehensive voting information and election guide that includes candidate endorsements, details on competitive races in key states (with extensive information on the candidates), and a breakdown of the arguments surrounding issues such as abortion, health care, and birth control. In addition, they link to resources on voting rights for each state as well as election protection. Users can even create a video encouraging their friends and other loved ones to vote.
Bustle’s WTFAQ section has dozens of short articles about every aspect of the midterms, from what exactly is a midterm election, to why every vote actually does matter, to where to find unbiased candidate information. Regarding health care and reproductive justice matters specifically, there are articles on how voting may affect abortion laws, birth control, health insurance generally, and Obamacare specifically.
A project of the League of Women Voters Education Fund, Vote411.org bills itself as a “’one-stop-shop’ for election related information.” On the site you can compare candidates’ answers to a variety of questions posed by the LWVEF; learn more about specific state and local ballot initiatives; create a personalized ballot; find your polling place; get voter ID information; and learn what kind of voting machines are used in your state. Plus, the LWVEF itself is a great resource on media and electoral literacy.
5. Sex Education in Schools
One issue that is often overlooked in discussions about voting and reproductive justice is sex education in schools. As there is no federal mandate for or against it, sex education initiatives are implemented solely on the state and local level, and legislators here can have a big impact. Because of this, when voting, it may be helpful to look at a candidate’s records to see, one, where they stand on education issues generally (state-specific sites like this one can be a good place to start), and two, learn what the laws regarding sex education are in your area and where your current and hopeful legislators stand. Planned Parenthood Action has some great information on how to advocate for healthy sex education in schools.
So educate your supporters, motivate them to vote, and, hopefully, you’ll be celebrating November 6th!***
*** (But, you know, not for too long, as the attacks on reproductive justice never stop, so neither should you.)