The Task Force for New Voters
The following text is a letter from Task Force Chair summarizing the
work and methods of the Task Force in the 2004 General Election.
The TASK FORCE FOR NEW VOTERS, working under
the auspices of the Fayette County Chapter of The Network, employed
two methods to register new voters : Door-to-door Precinct Walks and
Site and Event Registration. It then developed Get out the Vote strategy
to reach every person they registered
The Women’s Network Task Force organized walks in 36 Fayette County
precincts. Between June 3 and late September, groups of Walkers
canvassed 30 carefully pre-selected, scouted and mapped precincts,
and at the last, parts of an 6 or 8 additional precincts added later.
Using voter registration lists, teams of two working together took
particular street assignments to offer residents the opportunity
to register. Responses to the offer were mostly positive so that
at the end of each walk when we gathered to debrief and turn in
cards, there was usually a cry of joy and satisfaction as the day’s
tally was announced. As the word spread and friends invited friends,
the regular Walker Pool grew to more than 50 dedicated persons -
WN members and non-members, women and men, retired and teenagers
- who signed up for dates they were able, some of them twice a week
for nearly every single week, and all of them when we needed them
SITE AND EVENTS REGISTRATION AND INDIVIDUAL
In addition to precinct work, the Task Force organized 20 table
registration sites - in parks, retirement homes and apartments,
at shopping centers and the LexTran Center. Individuals also sought
out friends, acquaintances and persons they encountered to offer
them the chance to register to vote.
VOTER REGISTRATION RESULTS
Total—1647 new voters-- June 3rd to September 25 By summer’s end,
after 37 separate walks, Walkers had registered 1,320 voters, the
vast majority Democrats. (In the final month—all Democrats) The many
women who staffed tables, several of them multiple times, and those
who registered individuals they knew, brought in 327 more registration
cards for a Grand Total of 1647 registered.
GETTING OUT THE VOTE
Many of those we registered had never previously voted. To give encouragement,
to answer questions about when and where to vote, and about how to
use the voting machine, a detailed plan to call every single registrant
was organized and implemented, utilizing over 50 generous volunteers.
Each was to be phoned twice, once in mid-October, and again the weekend
before election day, offering rides to the polls if needed. After
training, each volunteer was given a precinct or partial precinct
packet of registrants, their voting locations, candidates in their
districts should they want to know.. A second call was made during
the last weekend before the election. About 60 persons of those we
had registered did request transportation. Most of these calls were
made from thehomes of the volunteers. On Election Day there were 60
volunteer drivers recruited by the Task Forceto take people who needed
rides to the polls.
In addition, we utilized a phone bank at Fayette Democratic Party
headquarters to call women in two state legislative districts, the
76th and 79th,.. We called to speak on behalf of not only Kerry and
Edwards but two fine women seeking re-election to the General Assembly
in those districts, Ruth Ann Palumbo and Susan Westrom, both members
of The Womens Network. We chose to phone young women who were
registered Democrats, but never, or hardly ever voted, thereby hoping
to also build constituencies for the future. We phoned close to 3000
women in these two districts. Results: Both of these women won their
races, one by a small enough margin that we believe our phoning gave
the margin of victory.
The Task Force was a collaborative effort of many dedicated people.
Without their skills, commitment, energy and collaborative spirit
at every point of organization, The Task Force would not have succeeded.
The Outstanding Committee Chairs.
Precinct Research and Selection; Data Entry - Diane Spurlock
Precinct and Walker Organization - Esther Webb
Site and Event Registration - Nancy Hoffman, Rita Caufield
Get Out the Vote - Ann Garrity
Early Support and Advisor - Jackie Betts
It required five or more teams per walk to complete a precinct in
one evening, usually between 5 and 8 pm. Needless to say, walkers
who were mostly strangers, became friends and colleagues in our shared
commitment to bring change to Washington.
Report written and submitted by
Carolyn Holmes, Task Force Chair
For the coming year in Fayette County Carolyn
Holmes, Esther Web and Betty Gabehart will co-chair merged task
forces----Task Force For New Democrats—whose history is above, and
Task Force for a Democratic Future, a new initiative to carry out
extensive voter registration plus grass roots neighborhood education
efforts. Read more about the merged Task Force for New Democrats
and a Democratic Future on the Fayette County Chapter link under
Central Kentucky on this web site.