In 2020, Faith Action launched its Rise + Vote program, aimed at educating and mobilizing BIPOC voters — many of whom have long been shut out from the democratic process.
Rise + Vote is a comprehensive education, registration, and mobilization campaign that aims to make sure that forgotten voices are heard. Congregations are one of the most powerful organizing tools we have, and it is through our faith that we will move our brothers and sisters to act. Only when we overcome voter suppression, and everyone who has a right to vote exercises this power, the true results of our democracy will be seen.
While activism is not and cannot be limited to the ballot box, voting is one of the most important actions that we can take in order to hold our elected leaders accountable. Every year, millions of people across the country are unable to vote because they miss the registration deadline, don’t have a chance to update their registration information, or are unsure how to register but through Rise + Vote, we aim to empower voters and ensure they have access to this information and the electoral process.
“As people of faith, each of us must consider how we can best steer our nation toward a future where everyone can share in full democracy, and that means ensuring equal access to the vote for all,” said Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action. “There is a massive, organized and well-funded effort across the country to suppress the voices and the votes of our BIPOC brothers and sisters. We are fighting back against this injustice, and working to bring the collective power of these communities to the ballot box.”
We believe the real return on investment for Rise + Vote programs extends far beyond election day. Faith in Action’s research seeks to broaden the metrics our movement uses to assess voter mobilization programs and identify metrics that capture not only whether people turn out to vote, but also the extent to which they become full participants in our democracy. In other words: Does the way we invite people to participate in our democracy move them to reconsider their role in it?
The History of Our Work
In 2012, Faith in Action embraced Flipping the Formula, a year-round program that connects voter engagement to issue-based organizing to build power, sustainability and impact over multiple election cycles. By contrast, traditional electoral programs are seasonal operations that leave no infrastructure behind.
To maximize both our impact and learning, we made a commitment in 2014 to launch a research program to study our voter engagement work. Consistent with Faith in Action’s DNA as a learning organization, our goal was to improve over time and contribute new knowledge to the field of FTF for both organizing and voter engagement. To support our research, we convened a team of experts from the Analyst Institute, Dr. Hahrie Han from University of California at Santa Barbara and Dr. Paul Speer from Vanderbilt University.
Through or civic engagement work Faith in Action aspires to measure:
- The impact of organizing on voters’ and volunteers’ sense of agency and political efficacy.
- Our collective capacity to organize across race, gender and other differences.
- Our ability to translate the power built during elections into far-reaching policy change.
During the 2014 midterms, Faith in Action led the largest nonpartisan volunteer-driven direct voter contact program in the country. While overall the midterms suffered from a low level of public interest, it marked a new chapter in Faith in Action’s Let My People Vote (LMPV) program. LMPV is a hybrid of FTF, leadership development and issue-based organizing designed to empower thousands of volunteers to effect change in their communities.
LMPV has been most successful in places where ballot initiatives created the possibility for concrete and positive change or where the organization did an exceptional job framing the election around an issue platform. Two of our federations participating in LMPV programs, Faith in Indiana and New Mexico’s Comunidades En Acción Y De Fé (CAFé), demonstrate the enduring power of FTF programs that integrate issues and elections. Not only have we impacted election turnout, they also secure policy victories and develop powerful constituencies.
2012: Land of Opportunity Voter Engagement Program
2012: Civic Engagement Program – Ohio Organizing Collaborative
2012: How Integrated Voter Engagement Builds Power and Changes Policy
2015: Integrated Voter Engagement Research Report