PODER’s Voter Education Registration and Mobilization (VERM) Program has a long history of providing community voter education and engagement in Montopolis and East Austin. For decades PODER has trained its staff members and volunteers to become deputized to register voters, work the election polls, and serve as deputies and clerks. PODER’s Young Scholars for Justice participants have also gotten involved. The YSJ has hosted forums for candidates, gone door-to-door campaigning to register former felons since many were unaware that once they were off paper, they could register to vote. Their slogan was, “Whether you’ve done four years at Harvard or four years at Huntsville, you have the right to vote!” PODER has also organized several voter registrations campaigns and voter education workshops.
In 2021 we worked on two major campaigns (1) supporting proposition H and fighting against proposition F during the May elections (2) ensuring proposition A did not get passed during the November elections. As part of our efforts we organized volunteers to knock doors and drop materials at 2,300 houses in East Austin. We also sent out 10,000+ mailers, and put up 30 yard signs. We were successful in defeating Prop F which would have weakened democracy by giving too much power to one politician. Additionally we worked with the No Way Prop A Coalition to defeat Prop A which would have taken away 500 million of funding from parks, libraries, social services, EMS, firefighters and given it to the police.
As part of our No Way Prop A campaign, PODE worked to create our first digital campaign. By creating short videos educating community members on Prop A, posting consistently across our social media platforms, and creating a social media toolkit PODER was able to reach over 100,000 people.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and necessary social distancing for the safety of our community, PODER set out to increase voter registration and voter turnout for the November election. PODER sent out mail outs, postcards, created yard signs, created graphics to share online, wrote a candidate profile guide, and hosted a 12-hour voter registration drive. Our content and information reached everyone living in precinct 426, 427, and 436.
As a result of our efforts PODER was able to increase voter registration by 10% and voter turnout by 33%.