South Carolina is worst in the country for the percentage of women who serve in a state legislature, according to the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics. In fact, the state Senate is made up entirely of men.
Now the Institute, a nonprofit that tries to get more women elected to public office, has created a new online system designed to train those women on how to run a political campaign.
The group conducts a half-dozen seminars across the state each year, but board member Barbara Rackes says the new online tool helps them expand to those women who would otherwise not attend.
“We have to approach women one at a time and persuade them to run for office,” said Institute board member Barbara Rackes, “They’re not thinking about it and they oftentimes lack the confidence. Their obstacles are mostly self-imposed.”
Rackes said the website is set up much like one of the group’s seminars and will offer courses on campaign planning, fundraising, media relations, and creating a narrative, among other things.
The Institute is partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina and the information technology collaborative IT-ology to create the site.
“I was okay taking that first step to go to the campaign training school, but some people might not even be ready for that,” said Cayce mayor Elise Partin, who took one of the group’s seminars before running for office in 2008. “So, to look on the computer and to learn on your own time… in the safety of your own area, it makes that first step not such a big one.”
Rackes said 2012 is especially important because it’s a presidential election year (historically higher voter turnout) that comes immediately after the state redrew its political districts (meaning some new legislative, county, or town council seats will open).