Maybe in the past, too many advocates have said "leave it to them, I'm not interested in politics.” But ask yourself, what issue in your work or life would be improved with less money or oversight?
Here's the basic facts about Voter Registration.
1. When you want to influence an elected official the first thing she or he will do is figure out how many registered voters you represent. Not many voters? Not much influence.
2. Anyone who KNOWS PEOPLE can run a voter registration campaign. The key is to form a working relationship with someone who's not registered and get him or her to register. It could be your neighbor, your program participant, or a member of your advocacy network. There are plenty of people in your community who know the process inside out. A working relationship is not a buddy-buddy thing, but based on an exchange of value, ie: I can help you get registered and participate and you can help me by being engaged in the political process.
4. There are 2 approaches. You can do voter registration like a campaign or like a business. Campaigns are typically short term, high intensity efforts by a group including special events, goals, buttons, speakers all focused on getting everyone in your group to register. Operating like a business is more systematic and bureaucratic. An example of a business approach is the Motor Voter law. When you apply for a driver's license, the clerk asks you if you want to register to vote and if you do, she hands you a form to fill out. In a social agency, the "ask" may come at intake or at an initial interview. For a tenants or advocacy group, the "ask" may come at the end of each meeting or at the coffee hour before or after a meeting. Key thing is "making the ask".
So, you ask: why do all this work when you could just send the unregistered to the board of elections? Three reasons.
If it were that easy, people would have registered already. The unregistered need motivation. Just like organizing: people get involved because of a working relationship with someone they know.
Next most important reason for you to be involved is to gather Information. When you know who in your network is registered, you can begin to educate and motivate them to participate on election day.
The last best reason for your involvement is that you will have more confidence in your ability to raise issues with elected officials when you can say: “My group registered 100 of our neighbors or program participants to vote so I can speak with some credibility.”
National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Voterization Guide gives a road map for educating and mobilizing the registered voters in your network, in your building or in your practice. You can start simple. Invite a local elected official to a meeting. Ask her or him about issues that affect your group. Later, as you get closer to the elections, hold a candidates 'night" to give all the candidates a chance to speak to your concerns and to respond to your questions. Voter education also includes explaining the issues to your members or clients using newsletters, posters, and emails can keep your members/clients informed about emerging issues.
Then comes the time to vote. Mobilizing the registered voters in your group is critical. Helping people get absentee ballots or travel to the polls can make a difference on election night when the votes are counted.
Read up and decide what you are going to do to help your community be heard when decisions are made at City Hall, in Columbus, and in Washington. It starts with you.
March 10, 2016, CityLab, Will Minneapolis's New 'Renter-Voter' Bill Increase Turnout? CityLab reports on a new Minneapolis law that requires landlords to give tenants a voter registration form when they move in. Will this be merely symbolic...or effective at getting tenants registered to vote? How many tenants read (or understand) the lease the landlord give'm?
According to the article: "Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” in 1993, requiring DMV and social-service offices to offer voter registration forms to people applying for licenses or benefits. Now, a new ordinance out of Minneapolis expands on that idea, requiring landlords to hand out voter registration forms to tenants." read more here