POWER is embarking on voter engagement as a means to furthering both its jobs and education agendas. Voter engagement in this plan involves reaching out to likely voters — both by phone and by door to door canvassing, to educate them about decisions before us in the upcoming elections about jobs and education.
POWER is completely non-partisan, so we are not working for or against any candidates. Rather, our focus is on the issues that we believe will make Philadelphia more of a city of opportunity for all.
Voter engagement will raise awareness and understanding of issues before us in the election, and then encourage people to turn out to vote. Studies have shown that if we can connect with likely voters multiple times, we can have an effect on their behavior on election day.
The strategy goes beyond simple election day goals as well: if we can turn out enough voters — show that we can turn out enough voters — to make a difference in an election (when the margins by which politicians win these days, particularly in local elections, are fairly small), then politicians afterwards, recognizing the power of our broad-based organization of congregations, will deal with us more directly and respectfully.
POWER’s sister organization in Minnesota ran a very powerful voter engagement campaign in their state’s last gubernatorial race. The new governor called the organization shortly after he won the election and asked, “What do you want?” They were ready with their legislative asks about health care and jobs…
And what are the issues in the upcoming primary election in May and the general election in the Fall?
For jobs, there will be an amendment on the ballot in the primary elections this May. If it passes by a 2/3 majority, it will alter the City Charter to give the City Council the right to demand that all subcontractors doing business with the city or subcontractors who are beneficiaries of city benefits, even indirectly, meet Philadelphia’s basic compensation requirements. In other words, if the charter amendment passes, any concessions worker at the airport or even a worker in a fast food chain in a building that received a tax break from the city would have to earn $10.88 and benefits.
For education, POWER is working with partners across the state, trying to make a full and fair funding formula for public education the number 1 issue in the upcoming gubernatorial and legislative elections. This involves letting all the candidates know how important educational funding is to us, and that we will be watching to see where they stand on this crucial issue. And then holding them accountable for fulfilling any election promises.
The voter engagement on education is make sure that voters know where each of the candidates stand on education for public schooling, and then to turn these knowledgeable voters out to the polls on election day.
Michael has been thinking about how we at Old First might organize some phone-calling and door to door canvassing as one of our Lenten disciplines. He will be discussing this with the Local Organizing Committee in the next couple of weeks. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please speak with Michael.