New coalition works to get out the vote

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By pooling their resources and tapping into a statewide corps of volunteers, the organizers of 10 for Tennessee hope to get out the vote for the upcoming November elections.

The new entity operates from a website, 10forTN.org, and acts as a virtual phone bank for any volunteer to make 10 Get Out The Vote phone calls in 10 minutes from their home, or from wherever they can access the website.

“Sometimes it’s hard for volunteers to gather in one place to phone bank,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, a public interest and consumer advocacy organization. “10forTN.org allows them to volunteer to help get out the vote in Tennessee from anywhere they can access the Internet.”

Coalition Members include Tennessee Citizen Action, Tennessee Disability Coalition, AFL-CIO of Tennessee, Common Cause of Tennessee, Tennessee Equality Project, ACLU of Tennessee, Tennessee NAACP, Tennessee Health Care Campaign, Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, The Black Children’s Institute of Tennessee, TN Professional Fire Fighters Association, TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, SEIU Local 205, Tennessee Association for Justice and the Tennessee Education Association.

For its part, TEP was glad to find a way to merge its own voter-education efforts into a broader outreach program.

“TEP is glad to be part of this coalition because it gives us the chance to help get voters energized this November,” said Chris Sanders, chair of TEP’s Nashville Committee. “The tool is easy to use and we hope that our members take advantage of it and help get Tennesseans to the polls for this important election, which will determine congressional and state legislative districts for the next ten years."

The goal is to reach voters who often sit out non-presidential elections, Mancini said.

“We’re advocating voting for all Tennesseans,” she said. “The people we are targeting often sit out these off-year elections, and it’s very important that they get out and vote.”

Here’s how it works: When a volunteer visits the website, he or she signs up for an account, watches a brief training video and gets 10 phone numbers to call. With each of those, the volunteer will encourage the voter in a nonpartisan way to be sure to vote. The organizers of 10 for Tennessee are emphasizing that volunteers only encourage the recipient to vote, and do not stump for any candidate or positions.

That’s a message, organizers say, which should be well received regardless of the recipient’s political bent.

“The personal contact of a GOTV phone call is known to drive up get out the vote results significantly,” said Courtney Jenkins-Atnip, Public Policy Specialist for the Tennessee Disability Coalition, “We know that your vote is your voice and we want all Tennesseans to use their voice this election.”