KPBS: San Diego Group Works To Boost Voter Turnout
By Susan Murphy
Just 20 percent of registered voters in San Diego cast a ballot in the June primary. Some experts blamed a lack of heated races combined with voter fatigue.
San Diegans had voted for a new mayor, a city councilwoman, a state senator and an assemblywoman — mostly in separate special elections and all within 18 months.
Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, has another reason: she says people were unaware there was an election.
"In July, Alliance San Diego surveyed 1,000 voters in low-voting communities to ask them if they knew when the next election was and only a quarter knew," Guerrero said.
Low-frequency voters don't receive campaign literature or learn about elections through news sources, added Guerrero.
To get the word out about the upcoming November election, the civic group launched a non-partisan campaign, hiring a team of 70 people to reach 50,000 infrequent voters over the next six weeks.
"Our work has shown that when we engage voters in a peer-to-peer model... community-to-community, and we do it in the language of that voter, that we have a better success rate for converting that infrequent voter into an active voter," Guerrero said.
The advocacy group plans to talk to voters door-to-door and over the phone. They've also launched an online campaign at voteforsd.org.
"We believe that our democracy matters and we can’t move forward in addressing the problems of the day — whether that’s an environmental problem, jobs problem, or a civil rights problem — if the affected communities are not engaged in the policy-making that effects us all," Guerrero said.