Voter participation rates among Washingtonians old enough to vote are around 44% in midterm elections and 61% in presidential years. People of color, young people, low-income individuals, and many others are registering and turning out at much lower rates and face more obstacles when participating in the electoral process.
Barriers to voting have a direct impact on who represents our communities and the ability to have a voice in decision making. It’s time we dismantle these barriers and make positive change. People must have the right and ability to elect leaders of their choice in order for our democracy to be strong.
- We are part of the Washington Voting Justice Coalition is a group of community organizations and individuals dedicated to voting rights and access in Washington State. We believe that the vote is our tool, as ordinary people, to have a voice in our government.
- The Washington Voting Rights Act will ensure all communities have a fair chance to elect candidates of their choice in local elections. For government to be accountable, all voices need to be heard. But some election systems prevent all neighborhoods from being represented in local government.
- We allied with Washington Community Action Network (WACAN) to conduct civic engagement research in 2015 and 2016.
Civic Engagement Research
We know that an important way we can make our democracy and voting more accessible is by learning how we need to change the ways we are doing outreach to voters and how we communicate about the importance of voting. By researching what tactics are more impactful at including everyone in our democracy we can increase voter turnout and motivate people to become lifelong participants in our democracy.
- 2015 Operation Spectra
This experiment aimed at testing how to best increase voter turnout in geographic areas that include over 50% people of color. Candidates and campaigns generally overlook individuals in these communities, even if they are registered voters, because they are usually not considered likely voters, thus conventional political thought is they are not likely to be mobilized.
- 2016 Operation Spectra 2.0
Building off of 2015’s Operation Spectra we dove deeper into individual outreach tactics to explore what was the most efficient and effective GOTV tactic.
- 2017 Project Roque
This project focused on individuals who are people of color, registered voters, and low propensity. Our aim was to determine if delivering digital ads is effective in generating turnout, and what the cost per vote is.
- 2018 Operation Transfiguration
We registered new voters and helped fill in the gaps where students did not register through the University of Washington. Both previously registered and newly registered voters were asked to sign a Pledge to Vote card that was mailed back to them closer to the election.
- 2019 Automatic Voter Registration Voter Mobilization
In light of the enactment of automatic voter registration in Washington State, WEC decided to run a digital Get Out the Vote (GOTV) program with the goal of mobilizing young voters in the 2019 general election. WEC ran the program on Facebook and Instagram for two weeks immediately prior to the election. The program consisted of a GOTV video that had been previously tested at least twice and appeared to be effective at mobilizing young voters. The video encouraged people to make a plan to vote, included gentle social pressure language, and emphasized the election date. WEC embedded an experiment into this GOTV program to measure its effectiveness.
If you would like to read more about any of these efforts, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Civic Engagement Research Reports.