Will you be smacking your head on November 5?
I can’t tell you who to vote for on November 4. The Coalition on Human Needs is a nonprofit group, and we’re not allowed to weigh in on candidates. But we are allowed to encourage everyone to get out and vote. If you’re reading this, you are almost certainly well aware of the key questions the next Congress will either take up or seek to bury. Some of them: increasing the minimum wage; making permanent improvements to low-income tax credits, or letting them expire (wiping out the entire $1,755 child tax credit for a parent of two working full-time at today’s federal minimum wage); trying over and over again to take away people’s health insurance gained through the Affordable Care Act, or to cut SNAP/food stamps some more.
For people who care about the outcome of such decisions, consider this: in non-presidential years, turnout tends to be no more than about 40 percent nationwide. That means a minority of the electorate will choose. And of course it’s a skewed minority. In 2010, the turnout was 35 percent among those with high school or less education; it was 61 percent among college grads, according to Nonprofit VOTE. People who’ve lived in a place for less than a year are much less likely to vote than people who’ve lived there 5 years or more (28 to 62 percent, respectively) – low-income people are more likely to move frequently. Turnout was 40 percent among those earning less than $50,000, and 60 percent for those earning $75,000 or more.
So forgive us if we press the point. If you vote, and encourage others to do so too, you will have an outsized influence. If you don’t, you may be smacking your head the next day at the opportunity missed.
Knowing that democracy is not a spectator sport, we are delighted to have lent CHN’s director of public policy, Richelle Friedman, to the Nuns on the Bus tour, which is headed to Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin over the next days. If you’re in the neighborhood, we hope you’ll go and say hello, and help with their effort to educate people about the importance of voting.
Wherever you are, you can share information with people about the location of their polling place and tell them how to look at their sample ballot in advance. Nonprofit VOTE has a great Election Day Toolbox, which we’ve pasted below. If you work in a social service agency, you can let people get this info at a computer terminal in the waiting room. A congregation can provide that, too. Or email the toolbox below to your lists. Or make voter outreach calls through organizations you know about. Or tweet out the link: www.gettothepolls.com In close elections, this really matters.