Civic Groups Ramping Up Get-Out-The-Vote Efforts as Pa. Elections Near

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Grassroots groups are stepping up their efforts over the next few days to mobilize voters in time for Election Day.

There are about one million registered voters in Philadelphia, and about 2.6 million in the five-county area that includes the Pennsylvania suburbs.

While voter turnout is expected to be low this November 4th, community groups are rolling up their sleeves, working to alter that prediction.

“Our 41-plus congregations are reaching out through door-knocking, we’re doing phone banking, we’re doing mailers to people in the community,” says Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of “Power,” (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild), an interfaith organization that works to engaged voters.

(Bishop Dwayne Royster, at the KYW Newsradio studios.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(Bishop Dwayne Royster, at the KYW Newsradio studios. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

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Royster says they are reaching out to 60,000 “unlikely” voters including people of color, single mothers, and people of faith, with the goal of getting 7,000 voter commitments to cast a ballot.

“The people that we contact are three times more likely to vote,” says Royster, noting that the phone banks will take place over the next few days.  “The more Philadelphians get out to vote, the more we engage in the election process, the more Philadelphia will be taken seriously.”

“You cannot complain if you didn’t vote,” agrees Marisabel Isel, who became an American citizen fifteen years ago. “The first time I voted, it was so emotional, because I realized that if I wanted to have any impact on the laws, policies, or what happens in my neighborhood or the country, I needed to vote.”

(Marisabel Isel.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(Marisabel Isel. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

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Isel helps with the phone banks for the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), which is mobilizing thousands of Latino, Asian, and new American voters.

“I tell people it doesn’t matter who you vote for, you choose,”  says Isel.

PICC registers immigrants year-round at citizenship ceremonies, then goes back each year to follow up.

“With the mid-term elections, many new immigrants don’t understand how important they are,” says Sundrop Carter, organizing director for PICC.   She says the group has reached out to more than 3,000 new American voters through phone banks.   PICC is also canvassing immigrant communities.

As for their success rate, she says, it’s more than 70 percent.

“We reach out, make sure they know there’s an election coming up, we ask about their plan for voting,” she explains.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 4th.  For information on where to can your ballot, go to votespa.com.

 

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