A line of voters seen waiting to cast their ballots Photo Credit: Jim Mone/AP Photo

Looking Ahead to November 2024

Ramping up Our Organizing Support to Increase Voter Turnout and Power

Civic engagement tables are emerging as one of the best tools to empower regional communities in decision-making and long-term reforms.

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In this pivotal election year, the Haas Jr. team is focused on how to ramp up efforts to increase voter turnout, participation, and leadership among communities that are traditionally cast aside every election cycle. We want our communities to show up and vote—we want them to be part of decision-making and build alliances so we can achieve the long-term reforms that benefit everyone and not the powerful few.  We know that those who vote have more power in society.

Over the years we’ve learned that one of the best tools to achieve these goals is through civic engagement tables. Each table serves as an organizing entity for a regional network of nonpartisan organizations that can collaborate and develop a shared agenda for their communities. Along with community and funder partners, Haas Jr. has been supporting and seeding these tables across California since 2013 and we’ve seen the profound impact their organizing and power-building has had on voter turnout and changes in leadership.

Consider this: After the establishment of the Orange County Civic Engagement Table in 2017, turnout for the 2018 midterm elections was up by 60% in some congressional districts. Four out of every five voters that were contacted by members of the table said that was the first time anyone actively reached out to them about voting. Since then, Haas Jr. and other funders have looked to build these tables across California, the most recent one being the Central Coast one in 2024 that cover Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Civic engagement tables are efficient and effective ways to reach more people. And at a time when we are too divided across race, issue, city lines, it’s powerful to see neighbors working together toward common goals.

Sky Allen, who leads the civic engagement table for the Inland Empire describes the importance of listening and how tables unite people.

“A lot of people in the Inland Empire are feeling left behind...It’s a politically diverse region where people think about different issues in different ways. That makes it really important to be in conversation and to listen to our communities so we can help people see how they can have an impact on the issues they care about.  Civic engagement and voting can feel so abstract to folks, but when we can show them how it leads to better representation and more resources for their communities, that creates a direct connection.”

The 2024 election will be a test for American democracy. Our work with partners like these gives me hope that people and communities will come together to stand up for their collective interests—and democracy will endure. 

Thank you,
Cathy Cha