For Our Future is giving money to grass-roots groups already working in diverse communities to have face-to-face conversations with voters about issues, such as racial justice, immigration reform, income inequality and climate change. Like other groups doing direct voter contact, those working with For Our Future say that voters were turned off by talking about the presidential candidates.
“Through research and listening to what people were saying at the doors we have found that face-to-face conversations about issues like racial justice, education, immigration and climate transcend the negativity,” said Amanda Brown, campaign director of For Our Future. “Our core message is to remind people that voting is an exercise of power that elevates individuals, their communities and the issues that most affect their lives with the politicians they choose to serve them.”
Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist, has given $20 million to For Our Future since it launched in May. The other contributors are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
"We are doing old-fashioned democracy — with the latest digital tools — of neighbors talking to neighbors about the issues that matter most to them and the importance of voting [in] this election,” Steyer said in a statement.
Some of the groups working with For Our Future are national organizations such as the National Council of La Raza and VoteVets.org, others are statewide groups, including Wisconsin Jobs Now and Equality Pennsylvania, and still others are digitally based, such as PushBlack and Color of Change PAC. That group has been hosting “text-a-thon” events, in which volunteers make contact with potential voters via text messages.
Canvassers are trained to talk to voters about why it’s important to vote for candidates who represent their interests. For instance, African Americans who say they are concerned about racial justice are reminded that the next president will appoint an attorney general who will oversee those issues. Millennials are asked to consider which candidate and political party would side with them on wages and the environment. Voters also are assured that the groups will continue to work with them after the election to hold officials accountable.
Those voters, including people of color, millennials and young women, have been less enthusiastic about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign, causing panic among progressives during the past few months when polls showed a competitive race with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
But even as Clinton appears to be pulling away in recent days, after a 2005 video surfaced of Trump making vulgar comments about women, activists say it’s important that voters show up to vote not just to be encouraged to go to the polls. In addition to the presidential race, For Our Future and its partner groups are stressing the importance of down-ballot races, and not just Congress. Local races also are important, activists argue, because those officials are more directly responsible for monitoring police departments and making sure drinking water is safe.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly gave the name for the National Education Association.