Turn-out the Vote Effort as a Lenten Discipline

Turn-out the Vote Effort as a Lenten Discipline

We pray in worship on Sundays about the sorry state of our schools… and the need for funding adequate to run them.

We feed and house people each week who cannot afford to purchase meals or shelter.

This year, beginning with Lent, our faith’s season of penitence and amendment of sin, some of us will take on a discipline we hope will improve the education our children receive and provide better paying work for the lowest salaried workers in our city.

POWER’s major push this Spring and through the elections next Fall will be voter turn-out.

In a city where narrow margins often decide elections, motivating the electorate to come out and vote decidedly on specific issues– education and jobs– can make a big difference. Remaining non-partisan, we can have a decisive effect in the election as well as for the policies and programs the politicians who are elected fight for.

POWER’s Two Goals for the Spring:

  1. Pass the charter amendment that extends the 21st Century Minimum Wage requirements to subcontractors with the city and their employees.
  2. Demonstrate to candidates that there is a mandate to pass a full, fair funding formula for education funding

POWER has decided to focus on voter-turnout in four Council Districts, the 1st, 2nd, 8th and 9th, where there are numbers of voters of color and lower incomes and voters who are less likely to turn out. As well, we have good numbers of congregations in these council districts.

It’s sobering and hopeful how few extra votes could decide these upcoming elections.

Can you imagine the difference for low wage workers in any business receiving direct or indirect benefit from the city if their employer was required to meet Philadelphia’s 21st Century wage standards? A whole class of employees of subcontractors who do business with the city would suddenly get a raise. But only if we turn out enough voters to pass the charter amendment that will be on the ballot on March 2.

Likewise, what if education is unquestionably the voters’ first concern in the upcoming gubernatorial and other races? Not only would candidates need to make education funding central in their campaigning; they would also know that it will need to remain central for whomever wins office.

At Old First, we’re going to organize a series of opportunities to reach out to neighbors who are unlikely to vote, but who if they turn-out could make a difference. This will involve phone calling to tell them about the importance of upcoming elections for our schools and for workers and asking them to commit to getting out to the polls to vote. We will be organizing some door to door canvassing later as well.

If it sounds hard, it’s not.

Hannah Cartwright, Clark Dingman and Carrie Kreider are heading up the effort for us. They will explain everything we need. Really, the point is to make this easy enough that all of us can do it. In the process, we get educated, so that we can help others to understand.

It’s mostly just reaching out to our neighbors– and keeping close track of our results. And staying in touch with the voters we are motivating. Experience teaches that we have to be in touch with a voter 3 times before the election to have some confidence that s/he will actually turn up at the polls to vote.

While calls may be made from home in the evenings, we think it will be more fun to work together. (Michael is doing phone canvassing for Equality Pennsylvania and says it’s a challenge to engage people, but it’s really cameraderie among the volunteers.)

So we are planning to make Sundays after church our “canvassing times.” We will begin with a general introduction on March 16 after worship.

To make a difference, we’re going to have to stick with this! Here’s our tentative schedule. We hope you will consider volunteering at least one Sunday. But if you want to become a regular, that’s even better.

Sunday 3/16: In-Person Phone Bank #1, 12:30-3
Sunday 3/23: In-Person Phone Bank #2, 12:30-3
Sunday 3/30: In-Person Phone Bank #3, 12:30-3  [or a canvas this weekend?]
Sunday 4/6: In-Person Phone Bank #4, 12:30-3  [or a canvas this weekend?]
Sunday 4/13: In-Person Phone Bank #5, 12:30-3
<No canvassing on Easter, 4/20 — that day is already busy enough.>
Saturday 4/26: POWER Mass Canvas, any Old Firsters interested are invited to join in.
4/27, 5/5, 5/11 — Potential Phone Banks / Canvases TBA
Saturday 5/17Tuesday 5/20: Get out the Vote Blitz
Ok, it’s a Lenten discipline that could become a Eastertide practice. Aren’t we supposed to be about making changes NOW that stick LATER, and change us and the world?