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More on Organizing the Unemployed

Last week, I wrote a story on nascent movements to organize the unemployed, a group already connected via enormous online networks and politically fired-up after the eight-month battle in Congress over federally extended unemployment insurance benefits. For those labor groups and online organizations helping the unemployed flex their political muscle in the November elections, it looks like a focus on voter turnover might do the most good.

Essentially, the unemployed form an enormous political constituency — more than 30 million Americans have been out of a job at some point during the recession — but they have tended to be disenfranchised. Labor groups and grassroots movements hoping to change that — pressing the unemployed to do everything from calling Senate offices to showing up at Republican town halls to voting.

Generally, the unemployed do not have high turnout rates. Dylan Matthews brings the data, showing that 65.9 percent of registered workers with jobs vote, compared with 54.7 percent of the unemployed. On top of that, workers with jobs are much more likely to be registered to vote, compared with the unemployed. (All in all, the higher your income, the more likely you are to head to the polls. More than one unemployed person I’ve spoken or emailed with has said they would canvass and vote if they could afford the gas for their cars.)

But labor groups like Working America, local political groups and the unemployed netroots are working to register the unemployed to vote and to offer rides, childcare and eldercare for jobless workers to get them voting. Of course, these sort of get-out-the-vote efforts are commonplace. They are also very effective.

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