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Promoting voter registration and turnout

Did you know that a whopping 59 million eligible voters are not even registered to do so? And, that in our most recent presidential election, only 64 percent of Americans voted? Throughout history, men and women have fought—and died—for this right. And in other parts of the world, this privilege is still denied to many.Voting is important. It affects every aspect of our lives—from schools to healthcare to national security. It’s up to all of us to encourage and promote both voter registration and turnout. Keep reading for some ways to do so in your community.

Why don’t people register to vote?

There are a number of reasons people don’t register to vote nor visit the polls with regularity. According to recent voter-registration statistics, schedule conflicts, illness or disability, and an overall lack of interest are cited as top reasons for not voting. Others on the list include registration problems, inconvenient polling places, transportation issues and absentmindedness. Surely something can be done about some of these! Here are a few ideas:

  • Hold a voter registration drive: Student unions, community centers, churches and festivals are all great venues for a voter registration drive. Recruit volunteers to staff sites and help register people. Be sure to promote the drive ahead of time with posters, brochures and social media—include details regarding the registration locations, times and required documentation. Once people arrive at your voter registration events, make them happy they came. Fun giveaways, such as Flashing USA Flag Pins, Patriotic Sunglasses and T-shirts, imprinted with the message “I registered to vote!” are great choices.
  • Promote registration tools: Many states allow citizens to register online to vote. Click here to find out if yours is one of them. Other states offer postal-mail registration via the National Mail Voter Registration Form. These resources should be promoted community-wide—consider imprinting their information on a calendar magnet or tear-away memo calendar to send with utility bills, post on buses, or display at public service offices.
  • Sponsor a contest: Is your agency on social media sites, such as Facebook® or Instagram®? If so, an online contest may be a great way to promote voter registration. Ask community members to post pictures of themselves registering to vote or voting. Reward participants with entries into drawings for patriotic towel and tote sets or American-flag sports bottles.

Remember, just because you get them registered doesn’t mean they’ll vote. Be sure your promotion goes beyond registration and gets people to the polls. Think about offering free bus fare on Election Day. Or, organize a shuttle that leaves from your local senior center, YMCA® or neighborhood school.

Helping people in your community participate in Election Day isn’t just the nice thing to do—it’s the right thing to do. Now get out and vote!

“Voting Statistics.” Statistic Brain RSS. N.p., 01 Jul. 2015. Web. Retrieved 09 June 2015.

“Speak Out – Path to the Presidency: Why is it important to vote?” Annenberg Classroom. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 09 June 2015.

“Tips for Successful Voter Registration Drives.” League of Women Voters. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 09 June 2015.

“Events.” National Voter Registration Day 2015. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 09 June 2015.

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