Environmentalists aren't voting. This plan could help

voting booth
© Sergey Tinyakov/Shutterstock

Environmentalists are shockingly bad at voting. During the 2014 midterm, only 21 percent of environmentalist registered voters actually voted, compared to 44 percent of general registered voters.

Environmental problems are, by their very "nature," large-scale problems that require large-scale solutions. That's why voting is so important — the government is one of the few entities that can actually get the whole country to do something.

So The Environmental Voter Project is trying to make sure environmentalists actually get out to vote. They're going door-to-door asking environmentalists to sign a pledge to vote. They're not trying to convince anyone to become an environmentalist. Rather, they're driving existing environmentalists to the polls.

A pledge might sound a like a cutesy idea, but it's actually much more manipulative (in a good way) than you might think. People who sign pledges feel pressured into following through.

“This reminds them in their own handwriting of what they are and what they want to be,” said Nathaniel Stinnett, The Environmental Voter Project's founder. The project then follows up, sending texts and calling to remind environmentalist that "everyone" is voting, and that good environmentalists vote. In short, it's peer pressure.

“If we want to make better decisions or do things in our society’s self-interest, we need to be tricked into doing them,” explained Steve Valk from the Citizens Climate Lobby.

“If you can get a significant number of those non-voting enviros to go to the polls—well, you’ve got a lot of competitive races out there, and it could make a difference,” added Valk.

When environmentalists vote more, they don't just elect more green politicians. They make all politicians have to actually care about environmental voters and push through sustainability legislation to please them. I don't know if pestering environmentalist voters will work, but I'm not sure we can afford not to try.

Environmentalists aren't voting. This plan could help
Environmentalists are pretty bad at voting. Here's one possible solution.

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