“How do we make people vote?”


“How do we make people vote?”

It’s the question of the moment, isn’t it. I get this question a lot. There are millions of us who hate the direction this country is going, and understand that the solution is to vote the Republicans out of office.

We know there are more registered Democrats than Republicans. We also know there are a lot of Independents who could be voting for the Democratic candidates, too.

This country needs a constellation of solutions to tackle our atrocious turnout rates, but what we need is something you and I can do today. Right now. What steps can we take immediately to help us get what we desperately need in November, i.e. votes.

After receiving an odd bit of inspiration, I’ve realized that “How do we make people vote?” is the wrong question. Really wrong.

When you “make” someone do something, you’re forcing them to do it. It isn’t their choice. If they had wanted to do it, they would have done it already.

Think about a task someone forced you to do — whether at work, or at home, or with a group you belong to — how did you feel about that? When was the last time you were happy about someone forcing you to do something?

On the other hand, what about the times when a friend was working on a project and reached out their hand and invited you to join them on the project? When you have the choice to help or not help, you’re more open. If you’re being forced or guilted into something, you want to get out of there as fast as possible. If you’re being invited and the choice is yours, you’re far more inclined to learn about the project and why they’re doing it.

The question we should be asking ourselves is, “How can I invite people to vote?”

When we imagine inviting someone to join us, as opposed to forcing them to do something we want, we immediately change how we approach the situation. While forcing is simply a matter of saying “Do it,” inviting requires that we make a connection to the person we’re inviting. It’s one human reaching out to and connecting with another human.

This is what the effective activists have in common. Just by the strength of their personal interactions, the person they’ve had a conversation with will find that they’re more inclined to work on an issue than they were before the conversation.

I’ve experienced this myself after speaking with several, and this was just over the phone. I felt lifted up, full of energy, and more inclined to advocate for a cause. And its not like they’re a motivational speaker, someone you listen to and are inspired by their words. No, the power is in the interaction.

Some tips:

✦ The goal isn’t to convince someone; the goal is to connect with them, to really hear them.
✦ Invite them into the conversation: What are your biggest concerns?
✦ Listen for the concerns you have in common. Share with them that you have those concerns, too.
✦ Once you’ve connected, then you can tell them how you feel about being a voter and why it is important to you.
✦ Don’t tell them to vote. Instead, invite them in. Will you consider voting in November?

Effective activists are very clear about their goal, but they also know there are lots of ways to achieving it. Treating each person as an individual is how you can build towards a common goal.

Take a moment and think about the interactions you’re having with people about the upcoming elections, whether conversations in person, messages you’re sending via email, or social media posts you’re writing. Can you shape those conversations and messages into an invitation?

Readers, time is of the essence. There isn’t a lot of time between now and the November midterms. I will work to find as many opportunities as I can to invite my fellow citizens to vote in the midterms. Will you join me?

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7 replies

  1. 3rd party voter ONLY

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®4

  2. Thank you for some very helpful thoughts about canvassing, Tokyosand.

    • Sure thing. I think these discussions can extend beyond canvassing, too. Even when we’re talking to fellow Democrats, deepening our connection to them and supporting their concerns can give them the energy THEY need to keep going.

  3. You speak words of great wisdom. I have a tendency to try to guilt people into going to the polls, but your way might well be the better way. This is an exceptional post! Do you mind if I re-blog it in the morning?

  4. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    The mid-term elections are now less than four months away, and those of us who are determined to get the boot-lickers out of Congress and elect men & women who are willing to rein in Donald Trump, to hold him accountable for his actions and sometimes be willing to ‘just say no’, are concerned. We are hopeful in some of the up-and-coming candidates, we are hopeful because democrats are in the majority, albeit a silent majority sometimes, of voters. But we are also concerned because far too many people do not bother to vote, for one reason or another. My usual tactic is to be a bit of a bully, trying to guilt people into casting a vote. But fellow blogger Tokyo Sand suggests that another way might be more effective, and in many cases, I am inclined to agree. Please take a minute to read this excellent post and give it some thought! Thank you Tokyo Sand for such an excellent post and your generous permission to share.

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