Get the full report on ROP’s role in November 2008’s rural vote.
Rural Group Supports Voters from Start to Finish on Election Day
Building Relationships Translates into Voter Turnout
Scappoose, Oregon – In a year where much has been said about the value of community organizing and small towns, rural Oregon has a story of its own to tell about both.
Rural Organizing Project started their organizing for Election Day nearly a year ago. As one of Oregon’s only grassroots organizations that engage in non-partisan voter engagement strictly in small town and rural communities, ROP began educating and mobilizing volunteers in January through their network of 62 local human dignity groups.
An initial statewide gathering of 112 rural community leaders in Hood River in April 2008 grew to a voter mobilization effort that has included more than 412 volunteers in all 36 of Oregon’s counties. These ROP volunteers have knocked on 35,110 doors, made 6365 phone calls, held 33 ballot measure forums reaching 871 people, and distributed 65,000 voters guides by and for small town voters.
According to Ann Kneeland, a local leader with ROP member group Seeking Out Democracy in Junction City, “We’ve been around as a group for 4 years now, but it’s really in the last year that we’ve made the most gains in terms of contacts with the community.”
Like Seeking Out Democracy, another ROP member group Human Dignity Advocates in Prineville began contacting the community in May using a door-to-door survey that asked neighbor to weigh in on contentious issues of the day. This listening to neighbors approach allowed the local group to learn about the concerns in their town while also taking the first step in a relationship that carries on through Election Day. Over 400 neighbors were surveyed, sent a personal thank you note, and then invited to a community ballot measure discussion in mid-October. The group’s final contact was hand delivering voters guides with a personal greeting from their local group to 1000 households representing over 10% of the population of Prineville.
"I was really expecting a lot of door slamming," said Kathy Paterno, Human Dignity Advocates leadership team member and ROP Board member, "But there wasn’t a lot of animosity at all. The intention was to have conversations with the community – to give them a chance to talk about the issues. There were people from the far left to the far right. They seemed happy to give their opinion. This election was different than others because there were a lot of people disgruntled with the way things are. We felt people were paying greater attention."
This attention from local community volunteers and persistence from the Rural Organizing Project is paying off. While voter turnout rates will not be completely known until after Election Day, as of Tuesday morning, 85% of ROP contacts had returned their ballots. This compares with a statewide voter return rate of 55% on November 2nd according to the latest figures from the Secretary of State.
Rural Organizing Project is Oregon’s grassroots organization that is moving democracy forward in rural Oregon. For more information, go to www.rop.org.
ROP’s 2008 STAND Voter Guide
In the 2008 Elections, Oregon’s Ballot saw more than 10 measures. Many of these initiatives would have taken us a step further away from real democracy. True democracy and freedom requires an educated population whose basic needs are cared for, not an incarcerated one, protection of workers rights through strong unions and respect for the civil rights of all. Our government of, by, and for the people demands the resources to realize this vision of democracy, not tax loopholes and restrictions that hamstring government from doing its job.
ROP’s STAND Voter Guide was a key tool used by rural Oregonians around the state to educate their neighbors on these ballot measures and expand democracy in the process.
Download ROP’s STAND Voter Guide in English and Spanish.
Mobilizing our communities for Freedom and Democracy on November 4th and beyond!
Join ROP’s Freedom Voters Campaign Visit www.FreedomVoters.com
Download these materials and begin engaging your community members today:
Freedom Voters Guide
Freedom Pledge Cards
Study Circles for Freedom & Democracy: ROP member groups kicked off the 2008 Election Year with study circles to ground us in the challenges and opportunities in 2008. Check out Naomi Wolf’s Letter to a Young Patriot. Start a study group in your community or share your reflections with the ROP.