Electric cooperatives across the United States are being urged to help turn out the vote by joining thousands of other organizations backing National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 25.
By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer
About 32 million consumer-members of more than 900 electric co-ops in 47 states are of voting age, and with strong ties to their communities, those organizations could play huge roles in encouraging voter participation.
“One vote can make a difference,” said NRECA CEO Glenn English.
“Less than one vote per precinct in Florida elected George W. Bush president in 2000. One vote per precinct elected John F. Kennedy president in 1960,” said English. “One vote per California precinct re-elected Woodrow Wilson president in 1916 and large numbers of other federal, state and local elections have had a similar experience.”
Besides 468 U.S. Senate and House of Representatives races to be decided Nov. 6, gubernatorial races are on the ballot in nine states served by electric co-ops. There are also legislative contests among the down-ballot races in 41 co-op-served states.
“You may be the difference this year,” said English. “Every electric cooperative and co-op member will have their future shaped by this election.”
NRECA’s Grassroots Advocacy unit is coordinating electric co-op participation in National Voter Registration Day. The nonpartisan public awareness campaign is designed to reach up to 6 million potentially eligible voters in time for them to meet registration requirements in their respective states.
“We want co-op communicators across the country to join us in this massive push to boost voter participation,” said Steve Uram, an NRECA grassroots advocacy advisor.
Tens of thousands of volunteers from nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, industry and trade associations and businesses are backing the campaign with coordinated events, celebrity appearances, public service ads and social media messages.
“It would be great if we could get every co-op to include Tweets and Facebook messages about voter registration and the importance of voting in their social media messages Sept. 25,” said Uram.
“Several display ads, bill stuffers, and other Get Out the Vote materials have been compiled for co-op use and are available to registered users of cooperative.com,” said Uram. “We have several pages of sample Tweets regarding voting ready to go.”
NRECA launched its own Get Out the Vote Web portal in February as part of an ongoing association initiative to encourage voter participation.
America’s Electric Cooperative Vote 2012 has become an NRECA election center that’s racked up more than 15,000 visits, said Randy Dwyer, NRECA’s director of grassroots advocacy. The portal features quick links for visitors to use to access voter registration applications for every state.
“The key to power in this country is political participation,” said Dwyer. “That begins with being registered to vote and going to the polls so your ballot counts in November.”
Related story: Horry Electric among co-ops urging members to get involved.