The Art of Neighborhood Diplomacy
By Andrea Hailey, Vote.org and Sarah Friar, Nextdoor
Today marks Vote Early Day, and early voting is already underway in many states around the country. Voting is the most powerful action we can take to create a stronger and more representative democracy. But in order to accomplish meaningful change and secure our country’s future neighborhood by neighborhood, we have to ensure we’re all taking part.
This year, all 50 states will elect members of Congress, 36 states will elect governors, and 27 states will elect attorneys general. That’s in addition to the city and local officials who are up for election.
At Nextdoor, we believe change starts in the neighborhood, and at Vote.org, we believe voting should be seamless and accessible. It’s imperative for our communities to find ways we can reach out to our neighbors so that all voices are heard. That’s why we have partnered this election season to encourage greater – and more civil – civic participation in our communities. Together, we’re working to leverage technology to simplify political engagement, increase voter turnout and strengthen democracy – starting at the neighborhood level.
In 2020, nearly 80 million or one third of voting-eligible Americans didn’t vote; today, as many as one in four eligible Americans is not registered to vote. By forging meaningful relationships in our communities and leveraging the social networks we have already established, we can shrink these numbers.
It only takes a few simple steps to prepare yourself and your neighbors to vote:
- Check your registration. Make sure you’re registered to vote. Need to register? It takes less than two minutes!
- Make a plan. Where is your early voting location, polling location, or ballot dropbox? What are the deadlines? Who are the candidates in your local and state elections?
- Help your neighbor. Does a neighbor need a ride to their polling location? Do they need voting materials printed? A quick babysitter while they go vote? Offer services you can provide – and don’t be afraid to ask neighbors for help if you need it, too. Do some research and then pass it on in-person and/or on NextDoor and neighborhood groups. (60% of eligible voters are never even asked to register. You can be the first to ask your neighbor!)
- Encourage young voters. Reach out to local college students and young people; Vote.org has found that the first two times someone votes are the most important for establishing a lifelong habit. Our democracy’s future depends on the next generation’s engagement with it.
- Spread the word. A Get Out the Vote (GOTV) celebration can be as simple as setting up a table with voter information or a larger effort. Invite your neighbors to create a GOTV event on Nextdoor. Chances are, a few neighbors will want to pitch in. Post on Nextdoor to offer voting info or assistance to those in close proximity. Every kind effort helps improve our neighborhoods, no matter how small it may seem.
One of the best ways to improve how we engage in politics is to be a good example for your neighbors.
In Olympia, Washington, Jeanne Koenings put voter registration applications in her Little Free Library. In Missoula, Montana, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, neighbors have organized civil discourse groups and neighborhood surveys to facilitate conversations about topics that matter locally.
And in Houston, Texas, the city offers a free training course for emerging community leaders that explores how city and county governments function and how to navigate local resources and city services, including voter education.
Elections shape our communities for years to come, and some of the most consequential decisions are made by the very people we elect this year. Midterm elections traditionally see lower turnout than presidential cycles, so it’s especially important to get out the vote now. It’s not about politics, it’s about participation. The future of our country starts with what we do in our communities today.
Vote.org is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit using technology to simplify political engagement and increase turnout among young people and voters of color. It is the largest 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan voting registration and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) technology platform in America. Through corporate and nonprofit partnerships, a large-scale community of grassroots donors, diverse coalition building and influencer-driven outreach, Vote.org leverages innovative solutions that meet underserved voters where they engage and get their information, and has established its brand as the most trusted and accessible online resource for registering to vote and understanding how to cast a ballot.
Nextdoor (NYSE: KIND) is where you connect to the neighborhoods that matter to you so you can belong. Kindness is core to our purpose: to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Neighbors around the world turn to Nextdoor daily to receive trusted information, give and get help, get things done, and build real-world connections with those nearby — neighbors, businesses, and public services. Today, neighbors rely on Nextdoor in more than 295,000 neighborhoods across 11 countries. In the U.S., nearly 1 in 3 households uses the network. Nextdoor is based in San Francisco. For additional information and images: nextdoor.com/newsroom.