The League of Women Voters of Blount County said it has done a great job of getting voters registered, but it hasn’t done as much to increase voter turnout.
That was the message from league member Marilyn Finley during a brainstorming session she led at the Blount County Library early Saturday.
“We’re here to imagine new ways to get reluctant voters to vote,” Finley said.
Approximately 54% of registered voters in Tennessee and 56% of registered voters in Blount County participated in the 2018 gubernatorial election, according to data from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office.
Before the crowd of approximately 30 attendees, Finley explained why registered voters may not show up on election days. Those reasons include they think voting doesn’t matter, lack of information and inconvenience. She added that a few voters don’t even know there is early voting in Tennessee.
Following Finley’s brief presentation, attendees broke into small groups to discuss ways to motivate reluctant voters.
Event attendee Carol Swanson came up with the idea for a yard-sign campaign focused exclusively on voting.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen yard signs not tied to a candidate,” Swanson said.
The proposed yard-sign campaign could include information on when upcoming elections are, how to vote and how to register. The signs would serve as a way to overcome lack of information, attendees said.
The yard-sign campaign idea is novel, said Finley, noting traditional methods of encouraging citizens to vote, such as leaflets and mail campaigns, don’t work. Those conventional practices aren’t effective because they’re not personal.
Swanson’s group members said a way to make the yard-sign campaign more intimate is by tying it to the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the amendment on Aug. 18, 1920.
Those voting information signs may start popping up in yards around Blount County because the local league plans on taking a few ideas from Saturday’s meeting, and enacting them before this year’s upcoming elections.
“We will take the ideas we like the best, and work on how to implement them,” Finley said.