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Large urban areas often get the most attention and resources when it comes to get out the vote efforts, however, this does not mean that small towns and rural areas should be overlooked.
Throughout this webinar, we discussed strategies for engaging voters in Small Towns and Rural Communities.
Special thanks to guest speakers, Duane Gurulé of the Small Town Project, and Marty Dombrowski of the Center for Independent Living of South Central Pennsylvania for sharing their knowledge and expertise.
Answers supplied by Marty Dombroski of the Center for Independent Living of South Central PA.
Q. How do you balance the paper vs digital content? At the League of Women Voters of Fremont County, Wyoming, we mail a voter guide to all households across the county. Because the guide covers the entire county, it includes over 50 elections and, therefore, requires limited responses from candidates. Do you have any ideas on how to get more content with limited budgets?
A. Once we have our guides and other printed materials prepared, we create a QR code and print postcards and bookmarks telling residents about the guides. The postcards are then sent to households. The QR code is prominently displayed on the cards.
In this way, we encourage folks to access the materials digitally. We have a team of volunteers on hand to help guide people who may need help learning to use this type of technology. In addition, we do print materials (esp comprehensive guides) in very limited quantities and in all types of accessible formats. These are available to anyone who requests them, and a supply is also kept at the local libraries.
Is there information about the extent of access to cell phones in rural areas of this country? In the particular geographic area where you work? Have you used cell phone messaging to help voters? Particular common apps for cell phone communication to rural voters?
A. We do use text messaging on cell phones to remind voters of upcoming dates if the individual has indicated that this is the preferred contact method. There are a number of programs that offer free cell phones to individuals who meet the eligibility requirements so, our staff takes this opportunity to make sure that folks know that these programs are available and offer assistance if someone needs help signing up.
Have you been successful in advocating for robust early voting plans in rural communities? In NC, the budgets are set for our county elections offices at the beginning of the fiscal year and there is always resistance to providing multiple early voting sites in rural counties. These counties cover wide geographical regions where there are no public transportation systems. Would appreciate any tips or advice on how best to advocate for improved access to early voting.
A. We have not delved into this area (yet!!)