How to Get Your Friends to Vote
We’re less than 3 weeks away from the 2018 midterm elections, and today I want to speak directly to those of us who identify as being a part of Generation X, Millennials, or younger. Collectively, we make up the majority of eligible voters in America – almost 60% of them. And during Presidential elections, our people show up. But midterms? Sadly, a lot of us stay home and as Michelle Obama recently put it at a voter registration rally, we let grandma pick out our politicians for us. Now I love my grandma, but I wouldn’t super love for her to pick out my clothes or my furniture. So why should our generation leave it up to Baby Boomers and older Americans to pick out the politicians who will directly impact how our lives look moving forward.
Whether we go to war. Whether our access to abortion, a legal medical procedure, becomes basically impossible. Here in Colorado, one candidate running for governor, Jared Polis, is running on a strong platform for public education and providing access to publicly funded pre-school for all of Colorado. Those are real benefits that I’d love to have access to some day if Brad and I choose to raise kids here ourselves.
As much as I love my grandmother, do you think she cares about any of that? She’s not enlisting in the army anytime soon. Pretty sure her days of worrying about unexpected pregnancies are behind her. And Baby Boomers, frankly, don’t have as much self-interest in good public schools than young parents who can’t afford private school.
Younger voter turnout isn’t great in midterms
So I’m worried, to say the least, about the fact that Gen Xers, Millennials, and younger voters tend to stay home during midterm elections like our upcoming one. In our last midterm election, older generations cast 21 million more ballots than us. And listen, I get it. I know midterms aren’t as sexy as Presidential elections. It feels like there’s a bunch small-time politicians asking for your vote that aren’t on nationally-broadcast debates where you can watch them in action. But local politics make huge difference on a ton of state and federal regulations.
Now if you’re listening to a podcast like Bossed Up, you probably already take steps to get your career and life in order. You’re probably a pretty together person who gets to the ballot box often. But today I want to talk about all of those friends of ours who might need a little more help getting it together. Because I, for one, would rather have more of my friends contributing to our Democracy than my grandma’s friends, who you KNOW already have this election marked on their calendars.
3 steps to take now to get your friends to vote:
And don’t delay – this election is just around the corner.
Step 1: Show, Don’t Tell
What I mean by this is that people don’t want to be lectured on why they should vote. They’re going to be much more compelled to do it, if everybody’s doing it. So share your experience, behind-the-scenes style. Share on social media if you’re registering to vote again because you moved in the last year, like I have. Share the resources you’ve found most helpful when doing a bit of candidate research before you cast your ballot. Show yourself early voting if you live in one of the 37 states where that’s an option.
The idea here is to invite people into the process. Research has shown that people are more compelled to vote when compared to their own neighbor’s voting records. So give your friends some FOMO – the fear of missing out! If you’re actively showing your election preparation and participation, you might inspire others to take action, too.
Step 2: Share Concise Candidate Info
Honestly, I believe the biggest reason people don’t vote in midterms is because unlike Presidential elections, we don’t really have a sense of who we’re voting for. Governor’s races and Congressional candidates just don’t break through into mainstream culture as much as Presidential elections do, so there’s a little more legwork required to stay informed.
Take the guesswork out of it, by sharing concise candidate run-downs with your friends – like, now. It’s never too early to start talking about candidate comparisons and ballot initiatives with your friends, and frankly we don’t have that much time left in this election cycle.
Share concise resources from trusted sources like your local NPR station or nonpartisan sources like Vote411.org, which is run by the League of Women Voters Education Fund, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Talk about the candidates and ask your friends about where they stand. People want to be heard and want their perspectives to be respected, even when there’s disagreement. Sometimes the most persuasive thing you can share is your reasoning and your values behind your voting decisions.
Step 3: Make a Plan
One of the other biggest reasons people don’t make it out during midterms is that we fail to plan to vote. Research shows that asking people about their specific voting plan – when, where, and how they plan to cast their ballot – increases their likelihood of voting, whereas simply encouraging them to vote does not.
So ask your friends – when are you going to cast your ballot? Do you want to go together? How are you going to get there? (Hint: Uber and Lyft are offering free and discounted rides to the polls this year).
It might seem a little invasive, but what you’re actually doing is forcing them to consider their plans. If not asked, they might otherwise forget about a conflict that could keep them from getting to the polls that day.
Election Day decisions are made by who shows up
So let’s all do our part not only to vote, but to substantively support our friends, peers, and neighbors in doing the same this year. It’s up to us to step up, or give up all our power to the grandparents in our world.