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The Planet

Ten Ways to Make the Environment Matter on November 2

by John Byrne Barry

"Every vote makes a difference. But some votes make more of a difference than others."


Election Day is coming fast. And there's still time to make a difference.

While war and the economy are dominating the attention of Americans, for one in ten voters, the environment is the most important electoral issue, according to a Yale Survey in May 2004.

Environmental voters have the power to swing the 2004 election. In Florida, where the margin of victory four years ago was 567 votes, there are more than 200,000 "environment first" voters. Unfortunately, many of these "environment-first" voters don't always make it to the polls. So getting them there is one of the Sierra Club's top priorities this November.

"Every vote makes a difference," says Debbie Sease, director of the Club's Environmental Voter Education Campaign. "But some votes make more of a difference than others."

In other words, we need your help.

Here are ten ways to make the environment matter on November 2.

1. Tell your friends.
The biggest single reason that infrequent voters vote is because someone asks them. You can be that person.
Urge your friends, family, and neighbors to learn more about the environmental records of the candidates and to vote on November 2. You can look at a side-by-side comparison of George Bush and John Kerry on pages 4 and 5. (Feel free to clip and copy, or go to sierraclubvotes. org/resources/bushkerryfact.pdf.) And you can find and forward this list of ten ways at sierraclub.org/insider.

2. Educate yourself.
The side-by-side comparison of Bush and Kerry is a good place to start. Or visit the Sierra Club's Web site-sierraclub.org-where we're counting "100 Reasons to Get Involved," with a new reason every day until November 2.

3. Walk and talk.
Join a voter-education walk or phone bank in your community. If you live in Philadelphia, for example, every weekend you can join environmental advocates going door-to-door to educate voters about the candidates' records on clean air and clean water. Four days a week volunteer phone-bankers cram Club offices downtown or in suburban Narberth.

This year, the Club voter education program is reaching thousands of voters in Philadelphia and ten other communities-Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Tampa, Florida; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New Mexico; Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the state of New Hampshire. For contact information visit sierraclubvotes.org.

4. Give money.
Every $50 donation creates 30 more direct contacts with environmental voters in critical battleground states. Go to sierraclub. org/politics to find out how to contribute.

5. Hit the road.
What if you don't live in a battleground state and you want to make a difference?

Enter the Sierra Club's Road to Somewhere program. By November 2, Club volunteers and staff will talk to tens of thousands of voters on the phone and at their doors, telling them about Bush and Kerry's records on the environment and urging them to vote. While local activists will do most of this work, the Road to Somewhere program is a way for committed volunteers to reach across state lines and help where help is needed most. In September, for example, Club volunteers from the Illinois Chapter headed north to help with door-to-door outreach in Milwaukee. Massachusetts Chapter members went next door to New Hampshire. Loma Prieta Chapter members hopped on a bus from the San Francisco Bay Area to Reno.

And if you don't live near a battleground state or want to help without leaving town, you can make phone calls, either from your own home or, in some cases, from another member's home or a Sierra Club office. The Sierra Club supplies phone scripts and call lists. (See a sample phone script and more.)
E-mail road.somewhere@sierraclub.org or go to sierraclubvotes.org and click on "Road to Somewhere."

6. Register to vote.
If you're not yet registered to vote, you may still have time. Registration deadlines vary by state. Most are between 10 and 30 days before the election. You can get a national voter registration form and instructions at sierraclubvotes. org/resources/nvra.pdf.

While you're at it, encourage five of your friends and neighbors to do the same. Remember, millions of people move every year, and many of them neglect to register at their new addresses.

7. Pick up a pen.
Write an editorial to your local paper contrasting the candidates' records on environmental protection and urging readers to get the facts before they vote. Letters to the editor are one of the most widely read parts of the newspaper. Here are some tips on writing an effective letter.

8. Open your mouth.
Call a radio talk show to talk about the candidates' records on the environment.

9. Host a party.
Have fun. Invite your friends, family, and neighbors. Talk about how the candidates' environmental priorities affect your community. Contact your Club chapter for mailing lists and house party tips.

10. Vote. And urge others to.
Make sure you get to the polls and vote on November 2. Also, consider ways you can help friends and family to vote, like calling to remind them or offering to drive them to the polls on Election Day.



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