Community Mobilizers: The Latest Frontier in Voter Engagement

About Us: Progressive Turnout Project is the largest voter contact organization in the country, specifically dedicated to mobilizing the Democratic Party and defending democracy. Our mission: rally Democrats to vote.

We’re all about data: designing voter contact programs, testing them, measuring what works, and tweaking the most successful tactics.

To that end, we’re thrilled to be expanding several innovative programs for the 2022 midterms. One is our Community Mobilizers program, which we piloted successfully in 2021. Community Mobilizers are folks who have conversations with their friends, family, and neighbors to encourage them to vote. It’s one application of relational organizing, the latest frontier in voter engagement.

Here’s how it works

Using an app, Community Mobilizers connect to the people in their network who we’ve already identified as inconsistent Democratic voters — the folks who don’t always vote, but are much more likely to if they get a nudge or two from a friend.

By following up with those contacts over the last few weeks before election day, community mobilizers ensure voters are equipped to make their voices heard.

Past research has found that, on average, relational organizing is more effective than any other mode of contact, including door-to-door conversations, social-pressure mail, and text messages.

And that makes sense — Community Mobilizers are already experts in talking to their friends and family. The latest research highlights programs that increased voter turnout by up to 11 percentage points among key groups.

We wanted to build a program to replicate those results in 2019 when we worked on the NC-09 special election, but we discovered that relational organizing is hard to replicate on a larger scale.

How do we scale it up?

The answer came from Georgia.

In December 2020, equipped with extensive financial resources and “years of hard-fought progressive organizing in Georgia on the part of Black organizers and Georgia-based organizations like New Georgia Project and Fair Fight,” the Jon Ossoff for Senate runoff campaign helped address the scale question through their Community Mobilizer program.

Original photo by John Ramspott used under a Creative Commons license.

The campaign hired 2,888 Community Mobilizers from communities with high numbers of inconsistent Democratic voters, and trained them to contact family and friends across Georgia. The program was incredibly successful, building a network of over 160,000 voters in just under a month. And — as you know — it contributed to flipping the Senate in the January 5, 2021 election.

Equipped with a blueprint for success, Progressive Turnout Project ran a pilot Community Mobilizer program in 2021 to test the waters for 2022. In our pilot program, we paid over 200 community mobilizers to talk with their friends, families and community members. The mobilizers each received training in how to use the tech, and key facts about the election, voting rules, and candidates so that they were fully equipped to rally their network in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia to support Democrats in November.

During this pilot, we were aiming to contact 12,000 voters. We contacted 13,460 Virginia voters during the program, beating our goal by over 10%. The voters we contacted represented a broad age range, and the majority of them had lower turnout scores — meaning they were just the people we needed to be contacting.

Here’s what comes next

In 2022, we are planning to expand our program to battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This is where you come in. We have our work cut out for us this year — and we need you on our side. Contribute to support our efforts, or apply here to join the Progressive Turnout team.