Getting Out the Environmental Vote
By Jean Stewart, Chair, Earth & Environment Task Force
As we mobilize to counter voter suppression and motivate Americans to vote, there is another avenue to help accomplish this goal. With American democracy hanging in the balance and environmental disaster looming, it is imperative to use every tool to get strong environmentalists to become consistent voters in every election, from town to county and state, as well as national. The Environmental Voter Project (EVP) is a nonprofit nonpartisan organization dedicated to identifying millions of non-voting environmentalists and to turn them into consistent voters. Shockingly, registered voters who identify as strong environmentalists, that is, who answer questionnaires about their policy preferences by putting “the environment” or “climate change” as their number one concern, are among the poorest voters. The EVP estimates that over 8 million environmentalists did not vote in the 2020 presidential election and over 12 million skipped the 2018 midterms. EVP uses big data to identify strong environmentalists who vote seldom or inconsistently, and uses proven techniques to efficiently convert them into “a critical mass of consistent voters that will soon be too big for politicians to ignore.”
Some of these infrequent voters do vote in high-profile elections, such as presidential elections, but then become “drop-off” voters who don’t vote in midterms or down-ballot elections. EVP collects masses of voting data and uses a variety of big data techniques to identify strong environmentalists among registered voters, their voting frequency, which elections they vote in, and demographic and geographic information. The project also follows elections, including primaries, and issues in many states down to very local campaigns on local issues. In 17 states large numbers of strong environmentalists—those who are registered, but drop off, i.e., vote in presidential but not state or local elections or in primaries, or who are otherwise infrequent voters—have been identified. This information is analyzed and compiled for volunteers to use for contacting voters in these locations through phone banking, post carding, and letter writing. Volunteers are armed with phone, post card, and letter-writing scripts that have been proven by behavioral science research and election results to turn large numbers of these individuals into regular, consistent voters in elections across the board.
Club members have had experience with such scripting, developed by Vote Forward, in previous years’ Winning Wednesday GOTV phone banking, letter writing, and post carding. Interestingly, EVP research has shown that Latinx and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters show that significant majorities care deeply about the environment and climate change. However, their voting records are often spotty.
With voting suppression now being enacted in so many states and localities, getting people to vote is especially difficult and especially crucial. For environmentalists, suppression tactics are particularly impactful, since the prime targets for suppression are young people, people of color, and those with medium to low incomes.
For all elections in 2022, the EVP is using cutting-edge methods to give environmental voters every resource to keep from being purged from voting rolls, and all the information they need to meet the new and stringent requirements for voting. The EVP is also partnering with other organizations to provide data and techniques to counter voter suppression.
If you would like to expand your GOTV efforts with the environmental community, please contact the Environmental Voter Project at https://www.environmentalvoter.org. EVP already has a full list of opportunities—starting now through the November elections—for volunteers to make phone calls, write post cards, and send letters. That’s enough time to mobilize a large corps of voters who care deeply about the environment as partners in our overall effort to fight voter suppression and make every American’s voice heard!
 From the EVP Website “About Us.”