Less than a week after announcing a transition to a vote-by-mail process for its School Board candidate endorsement caucus, the Arlington County Democratic Committee (Arlington Dems) has received more than 2,000 ballot requests representing all 54 Arlington voting precincts. This strong early response, precipitated by the statewide stay-at-home order triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, exceeds the total number of ballots cast in the 2019 School Board Caucus, and sets the stage for a potentially record-breaking Arlington Dems School Board Caucus.
“Arlington voters clearly are motivated by the vote-by-mail process necessitated by the current public health crisis – and so are we!” Arlington Dems Chair Jill Caiazzo said. “Arlington Democrats is on track to demonstrate that the vote-by-mail process is effective, secure and transparent, which is especially important during these challenging times. Our experience refutes the baseless attacks by President Trump and others against this important voting method.”
The strong and geographically diverse early voter response also reflects Arlington Dems’ communications effort to alert voters about this change and encourage participation in the caucus. In addition to leveraging the Arlington Dems digital communications channels, the Arlington Dems notified about 40 news organizations (including Spanish-language news outlets) and 70 Arlington community organizations about the transformed process.
“A robust communications strategy will be critical to a successful vote-by-mail caucus,” Arlington Dems’ School Board Caucus Director Jacki Wilson said. “An important component was the immediate launch of a comprehensive web page for the caucus, which we augmented today with a “Frequently Asked Questions” section. We will continue to look for ways to share information about the caucus with Arlington voters.”
To that end, in the coming week, Arlington Dems will activate its county-wide, boots-on-the-ground network of more than 200 Precinct Captains and Building Ambassadors to share information about the caucus with their neighbors through email, text, phone, flyers, and/or word-of-mouth (at an appropriate social distance). “These additional efforts will be particularly important to ensuring that the caucus is inclusive, which is a core Democratic organizing principle,” Caiazzo said. In that same vein, from the outset, Arlington Dems has made the endorsement process accessible to voters without computers or reliable internet connections by providing hardcopy ballot request forms to voters requesting them.
Consistent with this focus on equity, and in response to feedback from the community, Arlington Dems will conduct outreach to residents of affordable housing units, seniors, and other voters who may be less likely to have easy access to online communications. Arlington Dems also is exploring options to translate caucus-related materials. As a first step, Arlington Dems developed a Spanish translation of the ballot request form, now available for download on the Arlington Dems website. People with foreign language skills interested in volunteering with this effort are encouraged to contact Arlington Dems at votersupport@ arlingtondemocrats.org.
“This transformed Arlington Dems School Board Caucus remains the single most robust endorsement process conducted by any organization in Arlington,” Caiazzo said. “By conducting the School Board Caucus in a way that respects public health guidelines while also supporting and encouraging community-wide participation, Arlington Dems joins with many other organizations and individuals in demonstrating the resilience of the Arlington community in the face of the pandemic’s challenges. Arlington will overcome these challenges, and Arlington Dems is committed to doing our part to keep our community moving forward in an inclusive manner during these difficult times.”