Increased Black voter turnout was key to Senator Warnock and Ossoff's victories in Georgia. NAACP Atlanta worked with a broad coalition of partners to increase Black voter turnout.
This blog covers changes in the general vs runoff election; the groups in their coalition; how they partnered with local community groups and the role of relational organizing in their campaign.
Georgia Senate Runoff
Voter turnoff usually drops dramatically in run-off elections. Research by Prof. Fraga and Emory University shows Black voter turnout increased by 91,000 new Black Voters in the Georgia Runoff Election! This corresponds to 92% of the general election turnout!
Massive Get-Out-The-Vote Effort
A coalition of NAACP branches targeted 19 counties where 77 percent of African Americans live to increase Black voter turnout in the US Senate runoff elections. They worked churches, community organizations and partners to achieve on average a 7-point increase in voter runout compared to 2016. The campaign involved:
- Over twenty voter registration events
- High visibility community outreach events with food, music and speakers
- No-contact canvassing targeting low propensity voters
- Early voting engagement efforts spearheaded by the Atlanta NAACP
- Poll monitoring
Black counties targeted for GOTV
This map shows Georgia counties along with the results of the General Election and the % of Black voters in that county. It was used to plan GOTV campaigns which focussed on Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Clayton, Dekalb, Douglas, Dougherty, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Houston, Lowndes, Paulding, Muscogee, Newton, Richmond and Rockdale counties.
Getting Out The Vote
A targeted, relationship oriented strategy was used get-out-the-vote (GOTV):
Focus. It focussed on nineteen Georgia counties that represent 77% of all black voters.
Decentralize. It worked with locally-led grassroots groups to contact voters in their communities through voter registration, education and mobilization drives.
Coalition. NAACP worked with a broad coalition including:
- Local churches
- National Panhellenic Council (Divine Nine) made up of nine African American fraternities and sororities.
- Vote Your Voice, an initiative by the Southern Poverty Law Center
- Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
- New Georgia Project, a voter-participation project created by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams
- Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia
- 100 Back Men of America
- National Coalition of 100 Black Women
- Reclaim Our Vote, a project of Center For Common Ground
“This is a powerful and proven grassroots coalition that is critical in turning out Black voters”, noted Ray McClendon, Political Action Chairman of the Atlanta NAACP.
Relational Organizing: On the ground and online
Campaigns reach more voters through relational organizing by having supporters contact their friends and families. Personal messages from someone you know are more persuasive than impersonal advertising or canvassing by strangers. NAACP Atlanta is planning to extend its relational organizing online with VoteForce. The app enables NAACP Atlanta volunteer managers to:
1. Communicate directly with supporters through the app and alert them when there is an action for them to take
2. Supporters are sent messages that they can customize and send to their friends as text messages
3. Post messages they send to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages with a single click
4. Organize supporters by county and their interest area so they are only sent relevant messages
Relational Organizing - Console
NAACP Atlanta organizers coordinate GOTV activities from the VoteForce console:
1. Set up sub-groups such as Fulton, Cobb County so that they can send messages relevant to volunteers in that area.
2. Create the messages that they want supporters to share with their friends and post to their social media accounts.
3. Choose ALERT so that supporters are notified immediately when there is a new message for them to share or action to take.
Relational organizing - Supporter app
NAACP volunteers and supporters:
1. Download the free VoteForce app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
2. Choose NAACP Atlanta as the group they are affiliated with and want to get messages from.
3. Enter their contact details, interests and their county.
4. Next they choose from the different messages that NAACP Atlanta has asked them to share and personalize that message.
5. They choose friends from their address book to text.
6. They click and all the friends they chose get a personalized text message from them.
Takeaway: Relational organizing matters more than ever when corporate interests can flood the media with negative ads. Extend your reach and mobilize more voters as NAACP Atlanta did, by having your supporters persuade their friends to vote too.