Education and Advocacy

The VPC will target and engage RAE members with programs designed to boost their information levels and engage them in civic activity other than voting.  The goal is to understand the relationship – in a quantifiable way that can be modeled – between knowledge, participation and voting.  The purpose is to create an infrastructure of engaged citizens who vote, speak out, and  weigh-in on issues that matter to them, whether or not it is an election year.  The VPC is working with partners in targeted states to design a locally tailored program that informs RAE members on an ongoing basis about issues that directly affect their daily lives, in 2011, 2012 and beyond.

The VPC plans to design and test programs that use a political model to target large numbers of low-information RAE voters, raise their information levels, and engage them between elections.  These test programs will communicate information that is not episodic or electoral, but relevant for moments when the RAE is paying greater attention to, and potentially willing to act on, issues that affect their daily lives such as state fights over education budget cuts or congressional action on implementing heath care reform.

In addition to researching the role of information levels in affecting voting behavior, the VPC also plans to work with state partners to experiment with more effective ways to improve voter information among under-represented demographic groups on an ongoing basis; much more also needs to be known about how to deliver information to voters who are not normally news seekers and what types of communications tools are most effective in reaching low information voters. The VPC is experimenting to determine ways to most effectively communicate with target voters – whether  through the mail, on the phone, or using electronic media. The VPC plans to measure impact in two ways – level of information and level of increased participation.

The VPC also is planning to work on a variety of initiatives to connect with local residents on issues that will increase their level of civic engagement and provide turnkey approaches to engagement. One illustrative example is Wisconsin where, as a member of the Wisconsin Voices Network, the VPC joined the effort in spring 2011 to stand up for unmarried women and the millions of hardworking Americans being harmed by anti-worker budget proposals. The VPC used groundbreaking lists and models to develop highly targeted and effective mail and phone programs. There are a number of other state-based initiatives that should prove fruitful including those in Ohio, Minnesota and Denver.