Jane Fonda's Fire Drill Fridays Volunteers Build Community to Target Over 2 Million Former Non-Voters

Jane Fonda attends the American Cinematheque's new 4K restoration world premiere - Getty-H 2020
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The organization's team of over 4,000 volunteers are targeting people who did not vote in the last presidential election but self-identify as caring about the environment.

Jane Fonda's Fire Drill Fridays has so far used a community of over 4,000 volunteers to urge over 2 million people who did not vote in the 2016 election but say they care about the environment to go to the polls this fall.

“Since Fire Drill Fridays went virtual in March, we have had over 6.5 million livestream views across platforms on our weekly shows. But what’s more exciting is that folks aren’t just tuning in, they’re joining as volunteers. Our volunteers have already surpassed our initial goal of contacting 2 million people across seven states that didn’t vote in 2016 but self identify as caring about the environment," Jane Fonda said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter prior to announcing the figures on her latest virtual Fire Drill Friday, which featured U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a guest. (Fire Drill Fridays went virtual in a partnership with Greenpeace USA amid the coronavirus pandemic.) "It’s not too late to join us as we head into these final critical days of the election," she added.

So far, volunteers with the environmental event series and its Vote For Climate campaign have logged 3,500 two-hour shifts of text-banking in order to engage voters, inform them on how to cast their ballots and spread awareness of progressive climate policies like the Green New Deal. Volunteers, who have also been calling Americans to encourage them to vote, come from all 50 states and Puerto Rico; the majority are white women between the ages of 50 and 70, according to the organization — a population that Fonda particularly wanted to engage in voting actions.

According to a 2020 Knight Foundation survey, "chronic" nonvoters are predominantly female (53 percent), white (65 percent) and between 56 and 73 (26 percent, larger than any other age group). In the 2016 presidential election, meanwhile, women between the ages of 50 and 64 who did vote primarily (51 percent) voted for Trump, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center analysis, while 53 percent of women 65 and older did. White women were more likely to vote for Trump (47 percent) than Black (no percentage listed) or Hispanic women (28 percent).

Fonda previously endorsed former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2019 but is now campaigning for Democratic nominee former vice president Joe Biden for president.

Fire Drill Fridays is also particularly targeting Latinx voters with bilingual organizers: Over 140,000 of the campaign's texts have been sent out specifically to the community, which will play an important role in the presidential election.

"In the 2016 election, 10 million people who said they cared about the climate didn't vote," Fonda said in a statement to THR. "If we can ensure everyone who cares about the climate shows up at the polls/mailbox/dropbox this election season, we could change the outcome of our future."

Fonda began her Fire Drill Fridays campaign in Oct. 2019, when the actor and activist relocated to Washington, D.C. to focus on climate activism efforts including getting arrested while protesting for climate justice with other Hollywood figures like Ted Danson and Rosanna Arquette. The campaign expanded to California and roped in other public figures like Joaquin Phoenix and Fonda's Grace and Frankie costar Lily Tomlin, among others.

To date, 10,000 people showed interest in participating in Fire Drill Fridays via text and 30,000 more signed up through the website, according to the campaign. Sixty-five percent of those 40,000 people participated in a Greenpeace initiative for the first time via Fire Drill Fridays.

In a recent Fire Drill Friday, Fonda read aloud some quotes from her teams of volunteers. Kara (her last name was not given), said,  “Being a Text Team Leader with Fire Drill Fridays/Greenpeace is such a wonderful honor and opportunity. Reaching out to the voters across the country has been quite the experience. Having lifetime Republicans tell me they are for the first time in their lives voting blue is something I will never forget. One gentleman told me he was changing for his new grand baby. He wants her to have clean air when he is gone. So moving."

Another volunteer, who self-identified as Robin, said, "I’m now a leader on our text team and I’m constantly amazed by all the hard work everyone has been putting in together. The voter outreach campaign we’ve been working on over the last few months has given me so much hope for the upcoming election and has assured me that we are making a difference."