Get Out the Vote and Join #nonprofitsvote
by Alexa Briggs, Manager, Policy & Research
Nonprofits Vote: Albertans go to the Polls in 2019
As noted in a previous post, CCVO is rolling out an election toolkit to provide nonprofits with resources, tools and information to engage in policy advocacy in the upcoming provincial election. The date of the election is not yet released but will need to be called by the end of May 2019. This is the final post; the full toolkit will be published in March 2019.
Why Don’t People Vote?
42% of eligible voters in Alberta didn’t vote in the last election. That’s pretty astonishing when you think about the fact that nearly half of eligible voters quite possibly:
Didn’t think it was important to vote.
Apathy is often cited as a reason people don’t vote but here at CCVO we believe that politicians are not always talking about issues that people care about in a way that is deeply connected to their lives. So, it’s up to all of us to ask the right questions and get politicians talking publicly about the issues nonprofits care about.
Didn’t think their vote would count.
People might think that their vote doesn’t count. We know that this isn’t the case; for example, in the 2015 provincial election, one riding in Calgary was decided by just 6 votes. Every vote counts.
Didn’t hear politicians address any issues important to them during the election campaign.
Another barrier to voting is the lack of information or time to find out about the parties and candidates. There is an overwhelming amount of information that gets thrown at us during an election campaign and sometimes it can be hard to know what is trustworthy and what is political spin. Nonprofits can help people find neutral and reliable information.
With more than 26,000 nonprofits in Alberta, it’s not a stretch to say that nonprofits touch the life of every single Albertan, whether it be as staff, volunteers, board members, or clients. We reach them through social supports, the arts, education, sports, and so many other ways. We contribute to the economic engine of the province, the social and cultural fabric of our communities, and we strengthen civic and democratic engagement by amplifying the voices of those who might not otherwise be heard.
Nonprofits have a responsibility to speak up about the issues that matter to us and that drive us to make positive contributions to our communities. If we stay silent on these issues during an election campaign, we let other sectors drive the agenda and can mean we won’t see meaningful commitments from political parties on issues that matter to the nonprofit sector. One of these parties will form provincial government, which will have direct decision-making power over issues that impact all of us. If we use our collective voice to encourage #nonprofitsvote, we can make a difference.
Why should #nonprofitsvote?
Encouraging people to vote is a nonpartisan activity. We know from past research that when nonprofits encourage people to vote, we can make a difference in the voter turnout, particularly among the people we serve. Nonprofits that engaged their clients about voting were successful in driving up turnout among groups that historically vote with less frequency.[i]
There is nothing more empowering than marking your X on a ballot and encouraging others to do so as well. It can be a fun organizational challenge to vote together and to talk openly about the importance of voting.
How can #nonprofitsvote?
CCVO has the sector covered in the upcoming provincial election. This post marks the final chapter in the Alberta Nonprofit Election Toolkit, and we have more resources coming your way, in a (soon to be released) Vote Kit, specifically designed to provide tools to support #nonprofitsvote efforts.
With this Vote Kit, you will be able to:
Make a #nonprofitsvote plan with handy templates to help you communicate in a nonpartisan way with your staff, boards, volunteers, and clients.
Get easy access to information on how and where to vote. There are lots of resources out there and we will make it easy to find so you can share.
Find information on issues important to the sector. CCVO will be asking the parties about their positions on key issues and reporting back to you so you can decide which party has the best plan for the nonprofit sector.
Join the #nonprofitsvote campaign to show the strength, breadth, and importance of the sector by publicly committing to vote.
The nonprofit sector is powerful and important and together we can make sure that the provincial parties address issues that are crucial to all Albertans.
Together, we can make it known that #nonprofitsvote!