Environmental Voter Project has a secret weapon for climate action
Boston, Massachusetts - The Environmental Voter Project (EVP) wants to turn millions of potential voters who care about the climate crisis into a force that can swing elections. And it is well on its way.
The Environmental Voter Project and their army of volunteers are using science and sway to turn environmentalists into a powerful force at the voting booth, one election at a time.
Spearheaded by director Nathaniel Stinnett and supported by a massive team of over 6,000 volunteers, the EVP works tirelessly to help climate-conscious people make a habit out of voting.
Stinnett sees the untapped potential in environmentalists, and wants to get them to fill out their ballots at each and every opportunity to become a secret weapon at the voting booth.
He's also trying to help give the climate movement bigger political power.
"There are millions of people who care deeply about climate in the environment. They vote in presidential elections, but no other elections," Stinnett told TAG24.
"[If] you get more people who care about the climate and the environment to vote, politicians are going to follow."
The non-profit has certainly seen results. Since 2015, the EVP has talked with eight million environmentalists who rarely or never vote, and turned over one million of them into regular green voters.
It's a vote worth fighting for.
Making politicians care about the climate
Voting is one of the most powerful forms of climate action, the EVP believes. If people in office see that their voters care about the environment, they'll prioritize dealing with larger problems, like fossil fuel use.
"What we know is there have been peer-reviewed academic studies that prove politicians are more responsive to the priorities of voters than they are of non-voters," Stinnett pointed out.
He and the EVP are banking on the fact that politicians, poll organizers, and campaign managers are focused on what people who vote actually care about. If people who care about climate change start voting en masse and making the issue a priority, it will send a clear signal to the people they elect – and even the ones they don't vote for.
"So if more people who care deeply about climate in the environment start voting, it is much, much more likely that politicians will follow, simply due to the brutal arithmetic of how democracy works," Stinnett explained.
"You go where the votes are, or you don't get to be a politician anymore," he added.
Where are the voters?
The groundbreaking non-profit organization has so far focused its efforts on 17 states that have the perfect storm for converting non-voters into those who will consistently go to the polls.
There are three things EVP looks for in an area when taking up the push for turning environmentalists into repeat voters: lots of people who care about the climate crisis, lots of elections, and lots of state and local offices.
"In each of these states [we're working in], there is a disproportionately large population of non-voting environmentalists," Stinnett said. "We want as many bites at the apple as possible."
"We also care [more] about state and local policymaking," Stinnett added. "So you better believe that we care about turning out climate and environmental voters for city council and mayoral elections – just like we do for gubernatorial races, just like we do for Senate and President."
After all, "if you are governor of California, or mayor of New York City, you're one of potentially the 20 most important climate policymakers on Earth. You know, big city mayors can save the planet."
EVP uses some unexpected strategies to get people to vote
EVP canvassers use cheeky behavioral science hacks to motivate environmentalists to become regular voters.
Not only do they rely on phone calls, texts, emails, and even snail mail to reach potential voters, but they run tests to find out what messages or methods might land best with certain ages or cultural backgrounds.
Another route is using one of the oldest playground tricks in the book: old-fashioned, "simple peer pressure."
"We'll say, 'Did you know last time there was an election, 214 people on your block of Main Street turned out to vote?' We, as social creatures, are much more susceptible to peer pressure than we'd like to believe. And if we think that a lot of people like us are doing a particular thing like voting, it absolutely makes us ... more likely to take that action," Stinnett explained.
The group even goes through public voting records in their canvassing, and sometimes even mails people copies of their previous voting history.
"Now, is that a little aggressive? Yeah, but it also works. Like, you know, the climate crisis is pretty aggressive, too."
"Aggressive" approaches or not, Stinnett and his team have proven that there's room for huge change to be made at the voting booth. As the EVP is getting out there to get more voters to show up for the environment, they are continuing to turn the voting wave green.
Cover photo: Collage: Environmental Voter Project