The mission of INCO Under 40s is to provide a wide variety of activism opportunities that can fit into any schedule. Whether you want to take part strictly from your own home, or join us in person for some of our group activism efforts, there is something you can do to make a difference – and your time will always be respected. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, your efforts truly matter; and we will never push you to do more than you want to. All of us are dealing with schedule overload, so we totally get it!
Our goal is to have action items that are both efficient and effective, so we have provided information for each call to action below that explains what it will achieve and why it is effective.
Current Action Items
Contacting Members of Congress:
Contacting your Members of Congress about important issues has an impact in three ways:
- Expressing opposition – contacting an MoC to express your opposition to a specific policy is the most common and obvious reason that constituents reach out, but it’s not the only one that has an impact.
- Expressing support – if you believe your MoC has done a good job with an issue that is important to you, you should still reach out with a message of support and thank them for their commitment. Their offices count the calls received on specific issues, and MoCs then take that information to their colleagues, as it is a help to be able to report that they received 1,000 calls from constituents about issue X.
- Raise awareness – if an MoC gets an influx of calls about an issue that is not already on their radar, it highlights the topic as an issue they need to pay attention to.
How to contact MoCs:
From our conversations with local Members of Congress, it has been reported that the most impactful method of contacting MoCs is phone calls, followed by emails through their websites, and postcards. The least impactful are sending Tweets to MoCs and signing online petitions. Not impactful at all are snail mail letters, due to the delay in receiving them as each letter must be screened for toxic chemicals.
Do: Provide your name and zip code, be polite, and thank staff for their time.
Don’t: Call MoCs in another state – they only want to hear from voters in their own area, so calling them does nothing but tie up their phone line and make it harder for their actual constituents to get through.
You can find the contact information for all our local Members of Congress by clicking here. You can find current suggested topics by following the INCO blog and signing up for the newsletter.
Voting is one of the single most important things you can do, period. Midterms are often overlooked, even by those who vote consistently in general elections, but we can’t overstate the importance of voting in midterms: Click here to read a brief overview of what’s at stake in the 2018 midterms, and what impact the results could have. So take a minute and register to vote if you haven’t already, or update your address if you’ve moved since the last election.
Voter Registration Drives
Since voting is absolutely crucial, you have the opportunity to increase your impact on the world by helping others register to vote as well. This could be as simple as encouraging your friends and family to vote, or as involved as volunteering to help with a voter registration drive:
- For those located in or near Ilwaco, there are currently opportunities to volunteer for 2-hour voter registration shifts in August and September – click here to register.
- To receive updates about other upcoming voter registration drives, click here to sign up for the INCO newsletter, and/or join our Facebook group.
The Importance of Voter Outreach
Reaching out to voters can have a significant impact on election results, which in some instances are quite literally down to one vote. Many results in the 2018 midterms could be decided by a very narrow margin, which makes voter outreach even more important. But what are the most effective forms of reaching voters? The book
Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout – Third Edition by Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber provides some of the most comprehensive scientific analysis currently available in this arena, compiling the results of over 100 experiments conducted between 1998 and 2014. The book is exhaustive and well worth your time to read, but the overall takeaway is that personal connections with voters are most likely to increase their odds of voting. Some ways of achieving this connection include:
Door-to-door canvassing is incredibly effective: In 44 of 51 experiments conducted, canvassing was found to increase voter turnout. (Source: Get Out the Vote, page 31) This is estimated to generate one vote per 15 individuals contacted, with a knock-on effect of influencing others in the household as well. (Source: Get Out the Vote, page 158)
You can volunteer for upcoming door-to-door canvassing efforts by filling out our Storm The Midterms form here.
Another extremely effective method of reaching voters is phone banking: The average volunteer phone bank will generate one vote per 35 calls. What’s more, calls made specifically by enthusiastic volunteers are the most effective of all phone outreach methods, generating far more votes than commercial phone banks or robocalls. (Source: Get Out the Vote, page 158)
You can volunteer for local phone banks by filling out our Storm The Midterms form here.
Text banking is a relatively new form of outreach, and due to the rapid advances in cell phone technology, there is minimal research currently available. Get Out the Vote cites two studies conducted in 2006 and 2010, both of which increased turnout to varying degrees. (Source: Get Out the Vote, pages 100-101) BuildTheWave.org has a breakdown of their recent text campaign for Conor Lamb, who won his race by just 627 votes, that you can read here.
Social media canvassing by volunteers is another area that has yet to be studied on a large scale due to its recent inception. One study looked at the impact of personal interaction with friends on their news feeds encouraging them to vote, and found it generated 1 vote per 12 friends engaged. (Source: Get Out the Vote, page 99)
Personal social media outreach has potential to be effective, and given that it is so fast and easy to do, it makes a lot of sense to take a few moments to send out an extra message for a cause whenever you check your Twitter account!
There are two different ways to get involved with current Twitter outreach:
- Sign up to tweet on behalf of progressive candidates and causes by filling out our Storm The Midterms form here.
- Indivisible member @negombosc is running a private Twitter room that is currently focused on flipping WA-03. Users in the room share content that can be easily retweeted; just follow @negombosc and ask to be added.
Postcards to Voters is an initiative that started in early 2017 to mobilize activists in sending handwritten postcards to voters. The postcards are very simple to write, with talking points and addresses provided; all you have to do is pick and choose with points to include and sign your first name.
The postcards catch attention because they are decorative, handwritten, and personal; and the results are promising. INCO’s postcard writing initiative sent 1,272 postcards from May 18th through July 19th alone, and we have been keeping track of ensuing election results, noting several close victories: For example, local volunteers sent postcards on behalf of Helen Tai in Pennsylvania, who went on to flip her seat as State Representative by just 96 votes. With many races coming down to a small number of votes, each postcard outreach has the potential to make an impact. Click here to view more election results on PostcardstoVoters.org.
Although this particular method of mail outreach is new, we know that direct mail does increase voter turnout (Source: Get Out the Vote, page 158). The book also notes that sending a message of thanks to voters for their participation, as INCO has been doing in these postcards, can potentially be a good strategy (Source: Get Out the Vote, page 63). Also worth noting is this passage:
“As we leave the realm of the conventional, mail sometimes becomes substantially more effective.”
Green, Donald P.. Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout (p. 60). Brookings Institution Press. Kindle Edition.
There are several ways to get involved with the postcard initiative:
- Visit PostcardstoVoters.org and register to send postcards from the comfort of your own home.
- Attend a local Postcard Party – subscribe to the INCO newsletter for weekly postcard party dates.
- Host your own Postcard Party – email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll provide you with a free starter kit (while supplies last) to host your own Postcard Party!
- Visit NeedtoVote.com to sign up for a free packet of 10 notecards to voters in key districts. The notecards are pre-addressed and postage paid, so there is no cost; all you have to do is write a personal note encouraging the recipient to vote. A script is provided if you’re not sure what to say. You can also sign up to host a notecard writing party and receive as many notecards as you need.