At the end of April, the interfaith coalition ISAIAH held a daylong gathering for religious leaders to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The event was organized in conjunction with Jewish Community Action and the StairStep Foundation, which works closely with predominantly African-American churches, and attracted 250 individuals. Out of that gathering the group selected anchor congregations — including St. Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis and Progressive Baptist Church on the East Side of St. Paul — to help create a campaign opposing the proposed amendment. The group also identified 100 “voter restriction team leaders” from congregations across the state. Eventually ISAIAH, which works primarily on racial and economic justice issues, set a goal of speaking with 25,000 voters about why the photo ID requirement was a misguided idea.
The group had never before engaged directly in trying to influence election outcomes. Owing to its tax-exempt status, ISAIAH is prohibited from explicitly endorsing candidates. The nonprofit group didn’t even have the phone bank capacity to begin making the calls that it had committed to. A national umbrella organization with which the group is affiliated donated three automatic dialers to help the fledgling operation.
Eventually they had at least 20 phone lines staffed with volunteers five nights a week. Using a voter database, they were able to initially target 100,000 likely voters who were anticipated to be people of faith primarily in the southern and western suburbs and the St. Cloud region.
ISAIAH hit its target for communicating with 25,000 voters before the end of October. In the final five days before the election, the group filled 300 volunteer shifts that continued right up until polls closed.
“By that point, our volunteers were so excited because it was really this incredible experience,” recalled Doran Schrantz, ISAIAH’s executive director, noting that polls were showing a dramatic drop in support for voter ID in the closing weeks of the campaign. “We saw that the polls were decreasing and decreasing and decreasing. It was tightening and tightening and tightening. By the time we got to that last push, people were just on fire.”
Full Article: Defeat of voter ID was team effort | Politics in Minnesota.