The finalists for the High-Impact Online Engagement Power the Vote Award effectively showcased their use of social networking platforms to emphasize their work around the League of Women Voters’ priority issues, including this year’s voters’ service and community involvement work. Their efforts demonstrate the power of using social platforms to reach a greater audience, increase League visibility and engage more of the public in the League’s priority activities.
We received so many excellent applications this year and we want to thank and commend all Leagues for their outstanding and innovative program work. The finalists stood out for their efforts in this award area. Please read about their projects below and use the grid to rank them in order of your favorite project.
Winners will be announced at the 2012 Convention at the Banquet on June 11, 2012.
After dramatic election law changes were enacted in spring 2011 threatening to disenfranchise voters, the LWV of Florida launched the “Be Ready to Vote” campaign using Microsoft Tag technology to provide up-to-date voter registration information via smartphones, email, and website to Florida voters across the state. This project makes the LWVF the first organization in the country to offer smartphone technology for voter education and registration purposes. Along with targeting college campuses, LWVF has mobilized 29 local Leagues to promote the campaign online and in print in their communities. The use of the Tag has encouraged LWVF to interact with new organization partners, such as the AARP Florida which shared the Tag with over 300,000 e-activist subscribers before this year’s presidential primary, and has generated widespread visibility for the League.
The “Be Ready to Vote” Tag campaign has also been highlighted in state and national media outlets, including CNN and PEW electionsline newsletter. The campaign continues to “underscore the Leagues reputation as a trusted source of voter information, as well as establishing LWV as an adept player in today’s technology.” LWV of Florida actively engages members and voters through their Facebook and Twitter.
To leverage integration of voter service and technology throughout the state, the LWV of Michigan organized four all-day regional workshops for Michigan local Leagues. The workshops, entitled “Tapping the Power: Voter Service and the New Media,” focused on tooling the Leagues to use technology to promote participation in the 2012 election season.
The workshops were held in urban, suburban and rural settings during October and November 2011 and attracted 64 members, including 4 via Skype, representing 89% of all Michigan local Leagues. During the workshops, a cross-functional training team of local experts equipped attendees with the tools to effectively utilize today’s technology, including social media and Vote411, to engage voters and expand League visibility. A comprehensive resource packet also supplemented the information at the workshops and provides links and references. After the workshop, attendees expressed commitment to expanding recruitment as a result of being trained to effectively utilize social media. On a larger level, the workshops have fostered trust between the state and local Leagues.
The LWV of the Calumet Area (IN) utilized their website to make campaign finance reports for local politicians easily-accessible to the entire community. The inspiration for the project came when LWV-CA Treasurer David Klein attempted to find campaign finance reports for local politicians on the Lake County Election Board’s website to no avail. Following this discovery, the League spearheaded an effort to post whatever reports were available on their website to help voters make more informed choices at the polls.
This effort has generated discussions in the community and in the local media. Many community organizations have come forward to work with the League after viewing the reports on the League’s website. The League has enjoyed increased visibility and membership due to this great undertaking. The League has also observed that many local politicians are filing their campaign finance reports in a timelier and more professional manner due to the increased accessibility, making these forms even more helpful to local voters.
Since May 2011, the LWV of Asheville-Buncombe County (NC) has been utilizing a heightened and more diverse online presence to gain local and national media coverage, increase awareness of the League in the community, and engage younger voters. The League has maintained an up-to-date calendar on their website and used active social media including Twitter and Facebook to reach potential members and voters and promote all upcoming events.
The Leagues also maintains a guest blog with the local weekly newspaper, which has been dramatically increased League visibility in the community and among allied organizations. Online communication has offered the League a free, easy way to publicize events and reach a much broader, more diverse community audience, including a larger number of new, often younger attendees at their events. Overall, their online engagement efforts have reminded the community, especially the newest generation of voters, that the League is relevant and here to educate and inform voters about important issues.