Skeptical of the Power of Your Vote? Read This.
“Local elected leaders are making decisions that we will see and feel on an everyday basis. Don’t like the pothole on your street? Local election. Want renovations for your community school? Local election.” Camila Correa Bourdeau, Executive Director at March to the Polls, a 2022-2023 Social Innovation Accelerator Alumnus
Election Day, Nov. 7, is fast approaching, and the team here at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is encouraging every eligible North Texan to cast their ballot.
As we work to improve access to education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity—we recognize that the only way to create meaningful, systemic change is to address problems from every angle. And voting is a particularly powerful step that we can all take to improve North Texas.
As Hillary Evans, vice president of policy and advocacy at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, underscored, “Every election counts. So, it is critical to cast your ballot, and make your voice heard to create lasting change. As the late American civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis said, ‘The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.’”
Despite the importance of voting, every election, far too many North Texans do not cast their ballots—and this has a profound impact on every facet of our democracy, from who sits on your school board to how much you pay in property taxes.
Your Vote Is an Investment in Our Community
To better understand how voting impacts our community at large—as well as United Way’s focus areas of education, income and health—we sat down for a Q&A with Camila Correa Bourdeau, executive director at March to the Polls, a Social Innovation Accelerator alumnus that works to increase the rates of voter turnout across North Texas.
Check out our conversation to learn more about the state of voter turnout in North Texas, the outsized importance of voting in every election and how voting can help improve our community—for everyone.
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas: What is the mission of March to the Polls?
Bourdeau: Our mission at March to the Polls is to substantially increase electoral participation in underrepresented communities.
United Way: How do you work to increase voter turnout?
Bourdeau: We do this through three primary methods: in-class voter education and registration across eight major North Texas school districts in 70 high schools, on-campus civic engagement clubs led by students on 30 of our 70 partner campuses, and intentional community outreach in neighborhoods that have low propensity voter engagement. In these ways, we are creating a more representative democracy, which leads to better outcomes for communities.
United Way: Why focus on voter registration and engagement?
Bourdeau: In order to meet our mission, we must provide access to the ballot box. Access begins with registration. We like meeting communities where they are and one of those key places is in school communities, where we can make voter registration accessible to students, and by extension, their families and neighbors. Once we register eligible voters, we can then roll up our sleeves to engage the newly registered voters so they can confidently make it to a voting center. Through texting, emailing, door knocking and peer-to-peer student outreach, we share actionable resources so they can make their voices heard.
United Way: At United Way, our focus areas are education, income and health. What does voting have to do with these pillars?
Bourdeau: “Research and lived experience shows that when a city has strong civic health, inclusive of high voter participation, it has better outcomes in health, education and income. We see voting as the foundation for a community to thrive. Some of our Dallas neighborhoods have as low as 2% voter participation when electing leaders who make decisions about housing, health and education. We know that we can do better, and we are happy to serve as a bridge to any tools that can facilitate this process for our community.”
United Way: At a high level, how does North Texas do in terms of voter turnout?
Bourdeau: “At a high level, North Texas unfortunately ranks among the bottom of U.S. cities when it comes to voter participation. Some of this can be attributed to laws in Texas that are different from other states, making Texas rank last on a ‘lowest ease of voting’ index, and some of it can be attributed to local decisions about our election calendar where voters have to keep up with multiple election dates across the year compared to other communities. The good news is there is only one place to go from here: up! March to the Polls will work to make sure that North Texas is better represented through increased electoral participation among our neighbors.”
United Way: Many people only vote in presidential elections. Why is it important to vote in every election?
Bourdeau: “One of our mantras at March to the Polls is that the most important election is always the next election. So no matter if it’s a school board election, constitutional amendments election or presidential election, it is critical for all voices to be heard at each and every election. When comparing the choice between a president or a city mayor, we have to put in perspective that even though the media attention may differ, the local elected leaders are making decisions that we will see and feel on an everyday basis. Don’t like the pothole on your street? Local election. Want renovations for your community school? Local election.”
United Way: If you were speaking with someone who was doubtful about voting in the next election, what would you say to them?
Bourdeau: “I would tell them that they are an expert in what’s best for them and that no other voice can do them justice by voting on their behalf if they themselves choose not to vote. If they have doubts on whether their vote will make a difference, they can be assured in knowing that the Constitutional Amendments elections typically only bring 7% voter turnout, which means a handful of people will determine what’s best for 93% of our neighbors. And if someone doesn’t get the result they were hoping for after they vote, it doesn’t mean that their participation did not matter. It just means you can’t win them all. But the only chance at winning is by continuing to show up—otherwise, you are surrendering. March with us and don’t give up on yourself or your community—exercise your power to vote!”
Get Ready to Vote on Nov. 7
Visit our voting page to find everything you need to know about our upcoming election, including:
- How to find out if you’re registered
- What will be on your ballot this year
- What documentation you need with you to vote
- Local voting locations and how to vote by mail
- Your rights as a Texas voter
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Join us as we speak up and speak out about how education, income and health policies impact our community and advocate to expand opportunities and drive systemic change.