September 28, 2016

The New Essential Tool for Advocacy and Politics

The New Essential Tool for Advocacy and Politics

I view this as a must-have tool for those involved in electoral politics, advocacy campaigns, trade associations, non-profits, coalitions, or those involved in promoting civic engagement, etc.

A well known fact around the Social Driver office is that I am a big fan of all things #CivicTech. Before coming to Social Driver, I worked in Congress for a couple years. It left me with a passion to engage in the #CivicTech community – a.k.a. technology that opens up government, enhances politics, or increases civic engagement.

Yesterday morning I attended a launch party and panel discussion at the CTA Innovation house to celebrate National Voter Registration Day.  The panel included a lively discussion on voter registration and how technology can help get more people to use their right to vote.  The panel included former Senator Byron Dorgan, Virginia Delegate Mark Keam, Maryland Delegate Ana Sol-Gutierrez, Director Jackie Reyes with the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, and Bo Shuff of the DC Statehood campaign.

Tom Egan, still wearing #TechTheVote and #Vote4Innovation pins, riding back to Social Driver from the CTA Innovation House.

Riding back from the CTA Innovation House to Social Driver HQ wearing the #TechTheVote and #Vote4Innovation pins.

So what was the big announcement?

Local startup Phone2Action launched their new online voter registration platform called the Civic Action Center.  The web app has the capability to check if you are registered to vote, see who’s on your ballot, online voter registration (where possible) or offline registration via snailmail, ability to find your polling station, and more depending on each states voter registration laws.

I view this as a must-have tool for those involved in electoral politics, advocacy campaigns, trade associations, non-profits, coalitions, or those involved in promoting civic engagement, etc. This is now the easiest way to ensure your members are registered and able to participate in upcoming elections.

How can you use it? 

The Civic Action Center can be used in many ways.  I foresee it’s use at live organization events to ensure your members are registered, tabling at public events, using it in e-blasts, equipping volunteers with this tool for door knocking, simply being a resource on your website, or many other ways.

Often you will ask your members to sign a petition, Tweet at a Member of Congress, donate money, or something of that nature.  However, the ultimate test is whether your members vote – which is something that is often overlooked and hard to see instant results.

Why does this all matter, again? 

Sometimes we forget that in a good election year, just over half of all Americans vote; these years are during Presidential years.  During off-years, the percentage of Americans who vote in a Congressional primary can be in the single digits.  A small block of voters can make a big difference in primary elections.  Just look at what happened in 2010 with the Republican Tea Party wave.

Knowing that, you should make sure your members (and future members) have the easiest possible path to voting.  The more members of your organization voting in these low-turnout elections, the more influence you have – whether that’s fighting an issue on a local level or federally.  But where does that path really begin? Ensuring they are registered to vote – which is now easier thanks to Phone2Action.

What’s even better?  It’s free and you can embed it in your own website very easily.  Take a look at it here on our website.

Here’s how to embed it using WordPress:
1) Log into your website as an admin, and go to the WordPress Dashboard
2) Go to the page you want this embedded on, or create a new page just for it
3) get the source code found here
4) copy the source code
5) select the page you want it on
6) edit the page, and go into the “text” section
7) insert
8) insert the source code (from #1)
9) close the code by entering at the end
Below is screenshot of a blank page after adding the code and viewing it within WordPress.

Example of how it should look.

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By: Tom Egan
Special Assistant to the CEO
At Social Driver, Tom helps keep the office running, assisting with sales, forming strategic partnerships, hosting events, and more.  Previously, he was the Scheduler and Staff Assistant for Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) - the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.  Additional experience includes serving as a digital consultant for UNITE To Face Addiction's nationwide campaign that resulted in a free concert on the National Mall with 10,000+ attendees.