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The United States of America is the oldest modern democracy in the world! While we are still working toward the goal of “a more perfect union,” as the preamble of our US Constitution states (and as a famous speech from President Barack Obama highlighted!), one of the great qualities of American democracy is our Bill of Rights and our protections of our freedoms of expression, including the right to vote. And yet, if we get 60% of eligible people to vote in an election, that’s considered high! 

Why is it that not everyone participates in our democracy? Political science research has three answers for that question: because they can’t, because they don’t want to, or because no one asked. Let’s focus on that last answer and the power of asking for someone’s participation. It’s amazing how much engagement democracy activists can spur—voting and other activities—just by reaching out and letting people know that their voices matter. Here’s where Swing Blue Alliance and other amazing get-out-the-vote programs come in: to make sure that people are asked to participate in our democracy!

Teaching abroad for 14 years about American democracy, I became increasingly antsy to “do,” not just “teach.” It has been very personally fulfilling to get involved with Swing Blue Alliance, an all-volunteer grassroots organization that supports progressive policies and politicians. And music to my political scientist heart, Swing Blue Alliance gathers data on all their activism to make sure that volunteers are getting the best results for their efforts! Volunteers can be assured that the activities they are being asked to do have been vetted for maximum impact.

No matter where you are, how much time you have, whether you have a car, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert—there are so many ways to get involved! In each election cycle, Swing Blue Alliance chooses the most competitive races where volunteer efforts could help make a difference. For 2022, Swing Blue Alliance is focusing on US Senate, US House, governor, and state legislature races in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Volunteers can canvass in-person, but there are remote opportunities too: you can work the phones to recruit on-the-ground volunteers, you can write letters to increase voter turnout in crucial counties, and you can be a part of voter-protection efforts to help people fix problems on election day. Training is available, or you can learn as you go! What do you want to do to get involved? 

Thank you, Swing Blue Alliance, for making the world a better place!