The Nov. 6 election is less than a month away and credit unions, with a lot at stake, are still diligently working to elect their favorite candidates, especially in states where the races are close. Credit union leagues across the country are endorsing pro-credit union politicians as individual credit unions are both contributing financial support and stirring up voter activism in their communities.
Credit unions still have ample opportunity to make a difference in this year’s election outcome, especially in the nine battleground states, where neither presidential candidate has a significant lead in the polls: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. And several credit unions are indeed trying to exert influence in these states.
In North Carolina, where the Democratic National Convention was held in September, credit unions like Mountain Credit Union ($143M, Waynesville, NC) have been working with the North Carolina Credit Union League to register more voters. In conjunction with the North Carolina Credit Union League, Mountain CU held a two-day voter registration drive at its seven branches around the state. The events even offer pre-registration forms for 16- and 17-year-olds as well as party affiliation change forms.
“Anytime credit unions have the opportunity to get involved in the political process, it’s a win,” says Pam Melton, director of political affairs for the NCCUL. She said many credit unions have been eager to hold the drives this year. “Decisions made at the state and federal level affect us and we need to offer this registration convenience to members as another service. It’s a great benefit for both credit union members and credit unions to underscore the importance of voting in this election cycle.”
While the Credit Union National Association does not officially endorse candidates, many credit union groups and associations are backing political candidates. For example in Maine, the Maine Credit Union League announced its endorsement of 99 candidates in this year’s election, including 12 former or current credit union board members. CUNA, while not officially endorsing, is showing support for about 400 politicians through its contributions to the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, a federal political action committee that includes state leagues and affiliated credit unions.
Voters are especially motivated this year with both the presidential election and new voter blocks from redistricting. Aside from the president's seat, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 50 Senate seats are in contention. Credit unions, which are well connected to the community, have a unique opportunity to channel that voter energy by educational and door-to-door efforts, says Trey Hawkins, vice president of political affairs for CUNA.
While many leagues are endorsing, Hawkins says a credit union should still determine for itself which candidate it wants to back based on how they’ll fare best for its community, Hawkins says.
“Actually it can be very helpful to have a credit union there supporting a candidate that the league isn’t backing,” Hawkins says. “If that candidate wins, we’ve got a credit union that has built up a relationship with them and can get in there and talk about credit unions.”
5 Ways Your Credit Union Can Be Politically Active
Let candidates come into your credit union and shake hands with members in your lobby.
Organize employees to volunteer for door-to-door or phone call outreach effort to voters.
Use your marketing channels to educated members on key credit union issues and where candidates stand on them.
Hold fundraising events to contribute financially to your candidate’s campaign.
Listen carefully to what your candidate has to say about how legislating affects your credit union and credit union members.