Milwaukee Organizers Getting Creative to Reach Voters

“You create a list of people you’re going to talk to,” says Neumann-Ortiz, describing how the organization’s members created lists of Latino voters. 410 people participated as voceros last year and compiled a list of more than 5000 people. “Take that list, match the list with the voter file, and then you are able to prioritize,” Neumann-Ortiz says. VDLFA’s approach, she says, has been to target voters who are less likely to vote on their own initiative. If a vocero speaks with someone about voting early, they can follow up to confirm whether the person actually cast a ballot. Neumann-Ortiz says that mapping out the list of people each vocero will speak with allows the group to “to measure your scale and be able to have greater collective accountability.”

While VDLFA has used the approach to mobilize voters, like BLOC, Neumann-Ortiz says many people feel disenchanted about electoral politics. As a result, she says VDLFA is engaging with people from these lists for grassroots action. “We’ve coordinated with people around stopping anti-sanctuary bills in the past. Now we’re working for driver’s licenses,” she says. Moving forward, Neumann-Ortiz says, VDLFA aims to build its base by connecting with Latinos, pro-immigrant rural voters, and multi-racial youth.

Acknowledging that often people feel disengaged and used in relation to electoral politics, Neumann-Ortiz sees the RVP app as a way to transcend that transactional relationship.

“The power of this is that it starts with people you know. But the technology creates a nice way to see where we’re at in terms of relationships, scale and collective accountability around how are we doing, and that’s what makes it powerful,” Neumann-Ortiz says.”

CAP TIMES: Thousands rally at Wisconsin Capitol calling for drivers licenses for undocumented residents

There’s significant opposition in the Wisconsin Legislature to the idea of giving driver’s licences to undocumented residents of the state. But the speakers and demonstrators gathered Wednesday for a rally at the Capitol in support of the idea struck a hopeful tone.

“I’m feeling kind of happy, and hopefully we do get the license, because us immigrants, we drive scared ... because we always think we’re going to get pulled over,” said Mariana Rodriguez, an attendee from Appleton. “But we’re really proud, and seeing a lot of people here supporting, it feels good.”

WASHINGTON POST: The best way for Democrats to win in 2020? By ignoring the candidates for now.

Most candidates agree that “grass-roots engagement” and a good ground campaign matter, but too often candidates misunderstand what actually makes them work.

People power is not a spigot that can be turned on and off with fancy technology. Instead, it depends on interwoven human networks through which people learn to work together on things they care about, even when the electoral spotlight is not on. Campaigns, and political parties, can help build these networks — or make them wither away. In 2009, national Democrats opted to let them wither. They’re back at that crossroads today.

2018 was a standout year for voter engagement. According to data provided by NGP VAN, the voter file provider for Democratic campaigns and independent groups up and down ballot, supporters of Democratic campaigns knocked on more than 155 million doors in 2018, a 60 percent increase over the previous midterm election and a full 40 percent more than in the 2016 presidential election year.

THE ATLANTIC: Did Minority Voters Dethrone Scott Walker?

Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin eight years ago. He’s survived a recall attempt, a reelection bid, a brief flirtation with running for the GOP nomination for president, and years of bitter opposition from Wisconsinites who fought against his hard-line policies on voting rights, health care, education, and the state safety net. He’s led what might be considered the model of a Republican state takeover in the era of Trumpism. And he lost the 2018 election to his Democratic challenger, Tony Evers, by a margin of 1.2 points, a total of just over 30,000 votes.

As the dust settles from the midterm elections and political observers attempt to divine exactly what happened across the country, that result is worth a closer look. In particular, the limited data available on the Wisconsin race suggest that increased turnout among black and Latino voters was one of the biggest shifts from the 2014 midterms to this election. If that indication holds true, it would mean that in a state characterized over the past decade by Walker’s racial politics, and in a country currently facing rising bigotry and voter suppression, minority voters were Scott Walker’s bane.

JOURNAL SENTINEL: Democrats' hard lessons from 2016 spur turnout efforts in Milwaukee for Nov. 6 election

All eyes are on Milwaukee.

That was the message Angela Lang delivered to about two dozen volunteers as they gathered in the basement office of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) before setting out to knock on doors in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

"When I tell y'all that all eyes are on Milwaukee, specifically the black community and our level of engagement and turnout, I mean it," said Lang, the group's executive director.

Will Milwaukee — white, black, Latino, young, old — “turn out” on Nov. 6?

That has become one of the chief subplots in big, tight Wisconsin elections. Turnout was the overwhelming rationale for Friday’s appearance on Milwaukee’s north side by former President Barack Obama.   

MEDIUM: Putting People First. How America Votes Partners in Wisconsin and Michigan Are Focusing on Grassroots Engagement to Move Communities Forward

At its core, politics is about people.

We fight for and elect leaders we believe in because of the positive change we hope they’ll bring to our communities — our families and friends, congregations and coworkers.

Yet with the 24-hour political news cycle and unending affronts to our values from the Trump administration and its supporters, it can sometimes feel like elected representatives are worlds away from the people they represent.

That’s why America Votes partners nationwide are working from the ground up to engage communities in the fight to build back progressive power and elect leaders who really care about the issues that matter most to their constituents. In the second installment of our Spotlight 2018 series, learn how this approach is playing out in Wisconsin and Michigan.

DETROIT NEWS: ‘They have taken away our vote’: Michigan approves minimum-wage hike and paid sick leave, setting up clash

The Michigan legislature recently passed a proposal that Tracy Pease desperately promoted for more than seven months.

And she’s furious.

Pease, who earns $3.53 an hour as a server at the Coney Island diner in a suburb of Detroit, helped successfully gather hundreds of thousands of signatures to put a minimum- and tipped-wage hike to the voters via a ballot referendum this fall. Michigan organizers also had gathered enough signatures to force a vote on paid sick leave for workers.

But by signing both proposals into law last week, Michigan’s GOP-controlled state legislature has prevented them from being put to the voters — while also giving lawmakers a straightforward path to derailing them.

USA TODAY: New voting initiative will target people of color, women, young people for 2018 midterms

A new voting initiative aims to reach infrequent voters to win key elections, focusing on people of color, women and people under 35.

Planned Parenthood Votes, Center for Community Change Action, Color Of Change PAC and the Service Employees International Union are behind the "Win Justice" program, which will target Florida, Michigan and Nevada, each home to competitive Senate races this year.

The organizations plan to invest $30 million to reach 2.5 million voters. Past attempts to target voters for midterm elections have failed because "efforts often engage too close to election day and don’t build real relationships," the groups said in a statement.

"Win Justice will reverse that trend by authentically engaging these voters early and often," the organizations said. "This program is focused on both immediate and long-term change by building an army of local leaders to lead this effort."