Conventional wisdom suggested that 2018 would be another year of very low voter participation in Vermont. After all, we didn’t have hot races for the US Senate or House, and in the last non-presidential election year – 2014 – Vermont experienced its worst voter turnout in more than 50 years.
Boy did conventional wisdom get it wrong this time around. In fact, 2018 surpassed the midterm early voting record in Vermont and with final numbers still being tallied, 2018 is also poised to break records for the highest midterm turnout overall. This is a huge victory for Vermont’s democracy!
Thank you so much to the Vermonters who stepped up, spoke out and cast their vote in 2018. At a time when power brokers in D.C. want us to tune out and disengage, Vermonters turned out in droves to show what real democracy looks like.
We at VPIRG believe strong voter turnout to be a cornerstone of a healthy democracy, and critical to our success as public interest advocates. That’s why in 2018 we went to task trying to reverse the trend of declining voter participation in Vermont. We spent the entire summer talking to “Fight Back, Move Forward” voters across the state. Then in September we launched VPIRG Votes, the most robust voter turnout effort in our organization’s history.
In sum, in 2018 the VPIRG Votes campaign:
- Sent more than 100 canvassers working a combined 3000+ days door-to-door in more than 200 towns in the state;
- Held over 40,000 face-to-face conversations with Vermonters about the importance of voting in 2018;
- Generated more than 20,000 voter pledges;
- Sent 1,400 text messages;
- Made nearly 1,000 phone calls;
- Sent 25,000 mailers;
- Had 32,000 of our Get Out the Vote emails read; and
- Generated nearly 150,000 impressions on social media
And it worked – VPIRG supporters came out to vote in droves. We won’t have the final Election Day turnout report for a few weeks – but in early/absentee voting more than 23% of our VPIRG voters cast their ballot, compared to 13% of registered voters statewide. Turnout on Election Day itself was also huge and VPIRG voters certainly made their voice heard.
Now we won’t pretend to take all the credit for high voter energy in Vermont and across the country, but we know that our door-knocking, phone calls, texts, emails and personalized mailings certainly contributed significantly to the surge of Vermonters voting in 2018.
The success of the VPIRG Votes campaign and Vermont’s voter turnout is a clear signal that Vermonters are energized and ready for bold legislative leadership in 2019 that will chart a positive path forward.