Women Helping Women Vote
The 2016 election season was one for the history books due in part to its divisive and, at times, controversial nature. Regardless of how you feel about the outcome, we can all celebrate one thing: Americans exercised their right to vote. AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign aims to harness the power of AAUW members to register and turn out millennial women voters, a group that is often underrepresented at the polls. This election season, our members and supporters hit the ground running to get out the vote and make sure that women made their voices heard on Election Day, participating in more than 450 GOTV events in 45 states. Here’s a small sampling of some of the amazing events AAUW members put together during the 2016 election cycle.
Branch Voter Registration Drives
AAUW branches sprang into action to help get out the vote by hosting voter registration drives in their communities and on college campuses. Members used an AAUW-hosted voter registration drive training webinar that included tips for maximizing reach, seizing opportunities for voter registration drives in the community, and information about voting rights and protection efforts in the state. A star event was a joint AAUW student organization and AAUW Dearborn Branch voter registration drive on the University of Michigan, Dearborn campus!
AAUW and NVRD
AAUW partnered with The Newseum in Washington, D.C., to host a voter registration drive on National Voter Registration Day, a day designated by the National Association of Secretaries of State. NVRD aimed to reach tens of thousands of voters to ensure that they were not being left out of the electoral process. AAUW staff registered passersby on Pennsylvania Avenue — just blocks from the White House — and asked them why voting matters and why they plan to vote.
Know Before you Go
Registering voters is extremely important in our electoral process, but we can’t forget the critical need of voter education. AAUW members sought to provide all women voters with the necessary information to cast their ballots. Branches across the country hosted candidate forums to educate their communities on where candidates at all levels of government stood on issues important to them. In states considering ballot questions, AAUW members were active in educating voters about the pros and cons of ballot measure passage at public issues forums. AAUW members used AAUW Action Fund voter guides and voter issue guides to help ensure that women voters were educated and encouraged to exercise their right to vote on Election Day. These great events garnered hundreds of local press hits. We were partial to this quotation from forum organizer and AAUW member Margaret McCann, who so eloquently described AAUW’s effect: “For the past 22 years, AAUW Morgan Hill Branch has strived to provide a nonpartisan arena for citizens to learn about candidates running for positions in local elections, as well as issues that will affect their community by sponsoring or co-sponsoring a community candidate forum. Our elected political officials, media, and educators emphasize the need for voters to be informed about the candidates and issues. Being an informed voter is critical if we are to elect the best candidates. This forum gives the voter the opportunity to meet, question, and listen to candidates who could end up being our next mayor, school board member, or on our city council. Taking on the responsibility to learn all we can about our candidates is the best way to ensure that we make wise decisions and not depend on outside forces for our information.”
AAUW Members in the News
Apart from getting their amazing events covered, AAUW branches also harnessed the power of the pen to write to their local newspapers, urging the importance of women in their community voting. Members in 12 states made the case that your vote is your voice and that when women vote, they change the conversation to compel women to show up at the polls on Election Day.
Hello, It’s Votes We’re Looking For
Come Election Day, we still weren’t resting! Eighteen volunteer members of the AAUW staff made 1,437 get out the vote reminder calls to young women in the battleground state of Ohio to show to the polls. Other staff took the day off to serve as poll workers and poll monitors. In fact, many members of the AAUW staff spent their personal time knocking doors, phone banking, fundraising, attending forums, and getting out the vote throughout the 2016 election season.
Election Sticker Selfies
On Election Day, AAUW members made sure voters had a plan before they headed to the polls and how to protect their vote once they got there. We know nothing can beat making your voice heard by voting, but a close second are the voter selfies that follow! AAUW members and supporters showed their civic pride by sharing photos on social media of them rocking their “I Voted” stickers as well as the ever-popular “It’s My Vote” tattoos!
With the election over, the real work begins! As a trusted nonpartisan messenger, AAUW’s voice is needed now more than ever. You can help us take the next steps to make sure that women, girls, and their families are a priority for the incoming administration and Congress. Democracy demands work every day of the year, and we know that our AAUW community is up to the challenge. Our ability to influence change and defend progress is not possible without your constant support.