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.”