The Power of Partnership
By Election Day this year, WEC will have conducted one of our largest civic engagement campaigns in our history.
This November, we get to take a stand – on our values, priorities, and vision for our family and community. Casting a ballot in this year’s 2012 Election is one of the easiest ways each of us can help shape the policies that affect us every day.
For almost two decades, WEC’s Voter Education Program has been identifying and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of environmental-minded voters in the democratic process. By Election Day this year, WEC will have conducted one of our largest civic engagement campaigns in our history. WEC’s on-the-ground work this summer and fall has been focused on two areas: candidate townhalls and get out the vote efforts. This election season, WEC partnered with a dozen other environmental and social justice groups to host three candidate forums in the greater Seattle area. These forums help build our grassroots power, educate candidates and the public on important issues, and increase voter turnout in an important election year. The first was in the 36th Legislative district. Over 80 people gathered before the primary election to hear where candidates stood on important issues like protecting Puget Sound, increasing transit options and making our neighborhoods safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Our next forum took place in the 11th Legislative district and included community conversation around environmental health and justice issues with candidates. These issues include the toxic Duwamish River soils and water table impacting residents and manufacturing areas; Port, airport, and industrial air pollution that impacts south Seattle; as well as the continuing challenges low-income area residents face obtaining access to transportation alternatives.
The final forum was in the 46th Legislative District and focused on energy, transportation and climate. Prior to a debate between candidates, there were voter education presentations. Over 50 community members came to hear their candidates speak and voice their questions. These community forums not only increase public discourse around these issues, but also bring these questions to the attention of legislators and future elected leaders.
WEC also focused on programs that encourage voters to cast ballots in November’s general election. One example of this work is through our partnership with El Centro de la Raza. For the third year in a row, WEC teamed up with El Centro de la Raza to conduct a large nonpartisan get out the vote program. Together, we connected with 60,000 Latino voters.
We know through past testing that by asking voters to pledge to vote, we can significantly increase voter participation. To our knowledge, our efforts are the first bilingual voter contact program conducted by Washington’s environmental community.