Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) is the model we use at URGE for voters on reproductive justice issues and identify them as URGE activists, then remind them to vote when it is election time.
By interacting with and building with community members over the long term, we are able to have more meaningful engagement over local issues. Typical Voter Engagement programs focus on likely voters and contact them only around election time. At URGE we focus our energy on our communities: queer and trans and Black and brown young people, and we talk to these community members three times a year, regardless of elections. We also invite these folks to join URGE and our Community Action Networks where they get access to our yearly membership convening, 1:1 organizing mentorship, and other resources provided free of charge to further their organizing. These are the same people who are often otherwise left out of voter targeting because their age and race say they’re “unlikely to vote”.
We run three campaigns each year in three target states (Alabama, Texas, and Ohio) and we are able to build solid relationships in our communities, activate young people and bring them into the political process, and encourage voting amongst our people. We’ve run campaigns in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Montevallo, Bowling Green, Columbus, Toledo, San Antonio, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley. Our issues have included comprehensive sex education, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), anti-border wall work, organizing against Texas’s racist SB4, educating people about Crisis Pregnancy Centers (or fake clinics), organizing against the anti-abortion Amendment 2 in Alabama, abortion clinic protection and transfer agreement obtainment, and sex worker solidarity.
URGE has been running Integrated Voter Engagement campaigns since the Fall of 2015. We started in Ohio, and in 2016 we expanded into Texas and Alabama. We use a combination of doorknocking, phone banking, text banking, in-person site-based canvassing, and digital organizing to reach our communities. We also hire canvassers from our communities, putting money in the hands of our people, to organize our people.