How Empower Engine Could have Helped My Work in the Alabama Special Senate Election

I’m Ino Chavez, and I’m very excited to join Empower Engine! I recently worked on organizing and GOTV efforts to turn out People of Color in Alabama’s special senate election. After learning more about Empower Engine’s capabilities these past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on how Empower Engine could have boosted our POC turnout efforts through volunteer engagement and organizer motivation.

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Here's a snapshot of me during a registration event in Alabama!

 

Alabama is a tough state for Democrats. Alabamians were no strangers to Roy Moore and his theocratic tendencies, but he has lots of motivated, die-hard fans. People started organizing, but it is very hard to motivate people when the odds feel overwhelmingly against them.

 

How could we diminish the cynicism behind the likelihood of a Democratic win in a deep, red state? Show them visually -- i.e. on maps. By seeing a path to victory and progress on that path, we would have garnered more excitement and quashed cynicism. Showing is better than telling.

 

As the campaign trudged on, more people got involved but not as many as there could have been. Nightly updates of our territory in a VISUAL form would have inspired more Alabamians to join the campaign trail, and it would have motivated the volunteers we had to give even more time. You can’t show volunteers a spreadsheet, but you can show them a map. Empower Engine gives every staff member maps of THEIR progress in THEIR turf, updated every night. It also shows where their targets are densest, so volunteers know their time is valuable. This EMPOWERS organizers and volunteers to do more. Organizers can even show these maps on their phones when in the field!

 

Doug Jones won by a slim margin, barely out of recount territory. Every volunteer shift and every vote mattered. It took a team of motivated volunteers and organizers to elect Alabama’s first Democratic Senator in over two decades. But motivation is hard when you’ve grown accustomed to losing. Maps would have helped. Alabama is very red, but we can win when we activate our base and show them a path to victory. With a civil rights champion like Doug Jones running against a pedophile like Roy Moore, it shouldn’t have been close.

 
  We had voter files, analytics models, and field data, but it was very difficult to visualize our impact. I made the map above in under 30 seconds. And this is with zero tech experience!

We had voter files, analytics models, and field data, but it was very difficult to visualize our impact. I made the map above in under 30 seconds. And this is with zero tech experience!

 

I joined Empower Engine because I truly believe in its power to inspire campaigns, reinvigorate staff and volunteers, and empower people. Mapping and GIS is no longer just for techies. I now know what we were missing in Alabama, and I’m excited to help get data visualization in the hands of more campaigns. Contact us for more information.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

 

Ino Chavez

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