Last week we hosted our very first mayors-only roundtable, which focused on immediate steps mayors can take to ensure safe and equitable access to the polls this fall. Click below for resources from the event.
Matt Duffy, Center for Popular Democracy, shared strategies to increase voter registration, make absentee voting easier, and ensure safe and adequate physical places for people to vote. Mayors can and should:
- Be effective and persistent communicators by including voting deadlines clearly and as often as possible on city websites, communications materials, and social media.
- Encourage staff and others to vote by providing time off to do so, providing free or discounted transportation to the polls on election day, and encouraging them to be election volunteers and poll workers.
- Use their networks and influence to encourage other businesses, anchor institutions, and nonprofits to take these same steps and engage their employees and constituencies.
If you can only do one thing, Duffy said, “talk to and establish a relationship with your election administrator.”
This position goes by different titles in different cities – clerk, supervisor, etc. – but this is the person who will be making key last minute decisions that can affect voters on election day. Invite these key people to engage in your election day planning, co-host virtual town halls with them, and ask about their biggest concerns so you can consider what you can do to address them.
Several mayors shared some of the ways they’re preparing:
- Mayor Kate Stewart, Takoma Park, MD shared that in addition to mailing ballots to every registered voter, the city has also been mailing postcard updates and sharing information in city newsletters and social media in multiple languages. They’ll have ballot drop boxes around the city and will be providing drive-through and walk-through voting on election day. To ensure poll workers and volunteers are safe and supported, they’ll be making sure they have ample space to work in as they count ballots.
- Mayor Dale Holness, Broward County, FL emphasized the need to think creatively about making voting more accessible by working with places that serve populations they want to reach like barber shops, libraries, etc to focus on unlikely or new voters.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Madison, WI noted how her city is prioritizing equity in voting access. The city’s Pandemic Voting Access Equity Analysis conducted in June 2020 revealed that Madison’s African-American voters had significantly less trust in mail-in voting options. As a result, they are prioritizing in-person polling in neighborhoods of color (with robust social distancing precautions in place) and recommend that other cities work to identify constituent groups that are most likely to rely on in-person voting infrastructure to help inform their priorities. Check out their Voting Access Equity Plan here.
Thank you to everyone that joined us!
Interested in future events? Check out upcoming opportunities here.