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Ohio 2018

Social Change is a rational process--get engaged.

Part 1: Put electoral change on your list of things to do

  Ohio Election 2018 looks to be a contentious, high stakes affair. With over a year to go before voting too many would-be advocates are still in Amnesialand. RHINO's member survey got 3 responses. Starting now means having an impact on the outcomes; waiting makes you a spectator.

   What's at stake in 2018?

  • Statewide elected officials. All the statewide officials are open seats. Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Ohio State Treasurer, and Ohio State Auditor are all up for grabs.

  • Ohio House of Representatives. All 99 members of the Ohio House are up for reelection, 21 are open seats due to term limits or incumbents seeking other offices.

  • The Ohio Senate will have elections in 17 of the 33 districts. Ten of these districts have open seats because of term limits.

  • Ohio Supreme Court has two open seats up for election.

  • Statewide issues. Still early days, but here are two issues that may be in the works for November, 2018: Minimum wage, Redistricting reform,

In addition to these state offices and issues, all 16 Congressional are up for re-election and one of Ohio's two US Senate seats is on tap. More here.

   What can housing advocates in nonprofits do to influence the outcomes?

  1. Voter Registration, Education, and Mobilization (VREM) is easy and important

    1. Register new members or participants at intake or enrollment.

    2. Register existing members or participants by comparing voter registration rolls with your membership lists to identify members who aren't currently registered.

    3. Educate your registered members with periodic email or print updates that highlight bread-and-butter issues.

    4. Educate registered members by holding periodic outings to public hearings, council meetings, candidate night events. "Immersion" helps your members learn the language.

    5. Mobilize your registered members to vote by encouraging absentee and early balloting and providing transportation on election day.

    6. Don't forget to document your successes so you get some 'street cred' with local elected officials.

  2. Publicize your issues. Use events (eg. healthy homes week), research (eg. evictions in your county), and opinion articles (eg. "lets get the lead out") to make members, participants, and "the public" familiar with your concerns.

  3. Educate your community with candidate forums, debates, guest speakers, and issue education sessions. Toledo's recent Mayoral debate is an example. Team up with other tenant-serving organizations or established civic engagement groups like League of Women Voters.

   Members and volunteers can work outside the boundaries of nonprofit organizations. While your organization can't be "electoral," organizational members and volunteers can become engaged if they are educated. Here are some examples of how members and volunteers can carry your messages.

  • Volunteer at the polls. Learning the voting system is a good way to motivate others to participate.

  • Volunteer for a candidate. Doorknocking, lit drops, and participating in candidate events builds commitment to civic engagement.

  • Attend political events and raise issues in the Q&A. A well placed question could be the topic covered by the media the next day.

   Planning now for 2018 has two benefits. One is that organizations can integrate electoral efforts seamlessly into normal operations. The other is that organizations can decide which races and issues deserve attention. Waiting til Halloween to say "don't forget to vote" doesn't have much impact. Remember that civic engagement is a marathon, not a sprint.