How to Turn a Person Into a Voter

In States, Voting On

This month, we got on a bus with some colleagues and made our way to a senior center in Louisville, Ga., a quaint town about 50 miles from Augusta. The trip was part of a bus tour across the South to talk to black people about building political power.

When we arrived, we led the group in a discussion, then sang freedom songs and James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!” They even had a dance-off.

It was a moment of fun, but moments like that are also a key part of our strategy for getting people to vote.

All year, our group, Black Voters Matter Fund, crisscrosses the South, focusing on progressive pockets in red states to find people who have been ignored.

We’ve learned how to turn citizens into committed voters. Despite declining black turnout nationwide, including in 2016, the lowest presidential turnout rate for blacks since 2000, we’ve seen enormous success in local and statewide races.

And although our approach is tailored to black people in the South, our model is one that any party or politician or group looking to increase turnout — or to mobilize the six in 10 eligible voters who stay at home for the midterms — should use.

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