Monday, December 29, 2008

Nov. 4th Brings Universal Voter Registration to Election Reform Forefront - Memo From George Pillsbury, NVEN


  • An estimated three million were turned away or forced to vote provisionally due to a registration problem on Election Day
  • Only 70-75% of US eligible voters are registered. That is the lowest registration rate by far among advanced democracies, almost all of which use a form of automatic voter registration. Even in Iraq registration is not a barrier as voters can fix a registration problem on Election Day and vote
  • 2008 saw many registration problems. On one hand 3rd party nonprofits over zealously turned in duplicate or flawed registrations. On the other, partisan election officials attempted to illegally drop tens of thousands from voter rolls in Colorado, Detroit and other jurisdictions.

Voter registration is necessary to track voters but has no place as a barrier for any eligible citizen to participate in their democracy and vote.

-George Pillsbury, December 2008

George Pillsbury is the Policy and Development Director of the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network

To learn more about Universal Voter Registration, read the Brennan Center's recent overview of Universal Voter Registration.

New Reports: November 2008

Nonprofits and Nov. 4th: Coalition Building

70 volunteers and employees of Meriden-based Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut stood outside polls Nov. 4th in an attempt to recruit activists for universal health care. "We're targeting people who are engaged, who want to have an effect on policies and issues," said Janet Davenport, a spokeswoman for the nonpartisan, nonprofit foundation. Read more

Nonprofits and Nov. 4th: Creating Future Voters

Across the country, nonprofits like Kids Voting helped children participate as well as they learned about the democracy process in their social studies classes and cast votes in statewide elections at their schools, setting the stage for future participation. Read about an Arizona school district's experience.

EDR States Lead the Nation

In 2008, the 9 states that allow voters to fix a registration problem or register while voting had voter turnout 9 points above the others.

Election Day or same day registration successfully debuted in Iowa and North Carolina. Iowa let voters fix registration issues on Election Day, North Carolina's one-stop voting let voters register and vote at the same time during a 16 day early voting period.

Census 2010 is Hiring

The 2010 U.S. Census is hiring at its regional and local office across the country. The census plays a crucial role for nonprofits and the communities they serve; data are used to distribute congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments. To learn more about jobs with Census 2010, visit their jobs site.

Nonprofits and Nov. 4th: Monitoring the Vote

Thanks to tools like the Election Protection Coalition's hotline and website , Twitter's Vote Report, Harvard's and YouTube's Video Your Vote campaign, voters were able to take their complaints to the Internet this year to make November 4th the most documented election in American history. Read more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Congratulations to America's Nonprofits! - from the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network

Congratulations to the entire nonprofit community! You engaged voters across the country at unprecedented levels this year- and America responded by setting turnout records at the local, state and national levels. Now, let’s build on our successes and look forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead!


Support for Jennifer Brunner - by Jocelyn Travis, OhioVOTES

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner worked diligently to prepare our state for the Nov. 4 presidential election by providing clear instructions to the boards of elections and addressing the concerns of citizens, advocate groups and organizations throughout Ohio. Whether fighting litigation that could disenfranchise citizens, educating voters on election processes and/or reaching out to a wide body of interested parties to incorporate ideas from all sources, she put in place the necessary elements for successful elections.

The Plain Dealer's Nov. 2 editorial, which compared Secretary Brunner to former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, is ridiculous. As firsthand witnesses of the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and on the front lines of election integrity, I can state that there are vast differences between the two secretaries and their administrations. Blackwell chaired a presidential campaign for Ohio in addition to advocating for a ballot issue while serving as the chief election official in the state. Brunner held true to her campaign promise in 2006 not to support any candidate or issue and not to participate in any impropriety that could damage the reputation of an impartial administrator of Ohio elections. In addition, she put great resources into training county election officials, providing uniform instructions to our 88 boards and implementing the most comprehensive plan for standardized poll-worker training and development in the state's history.

The Plain Dealer suggests that a change in the structure of election operations is needed. It seems only logical that we should let the election be the arbiter of Brunner's work and not cast the office in a light that would seek to undermine voter confidence in the election.

Finally, Ohioans overwhelmingly voted in 2005 to keep the secretary of state an elected position that provides the necessary oversight for Ohio elections.

I feel strongly that Secretary Brunner did everything possible to ensure that our election ran smoothly on Nov. 4. Brunner, her staff and our local elections officials proved to the nation that we can have a presidential election that is fair, open and transparent. Confidence has been restored in the vote-counting process.

-Jocelyn Travis

Jocelyn Travis is the Director of OhioVOTES and a member of the Leadership Council for the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network.

Minnesota Senate Recount: You be the Judge!

Minnesota's close senate race, currently undergoing careful recount, is coming down to a few questionable ballots - view some of the sample challenged ballots on Minnesota Public Radio's website, and cast a vote on what you think the voter's intent was!

Election Day Exit Polls

Looking for exit polls? Visit CNN or the New York Times for national 2008 election results data.

North Carolina's One-Stop Voting Success

North Carolina’s voter turnout grew by 13.5% this year, which owes a large debt to the states new one-stop registration/voting program. The reform was responsible for 50%-75% of votes in participating counties. Read more in NVEN's turnout brief.

The Battle-Back of New Orleans

New Orleans - Despite its massive 50% population decrease in the aftermath Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana’s Orleans Parish managed to increase its relative number of ballots cast by 54% (NVEN's brief). Congratulations, New Orleans!

Urban Ohio Turns Out in 2008

Although statewide numbers are still rolling in, an unofficial victory for urban Ohio: Columbus, historically a lower-than-average turnout area, saw a nearly 5% increase in registered voter turnout in this year, up from 53% in 2004 to 58% in 2008!

17-Year-Olds Gain Primary Election Vote in Connecticut

Connecticut voters passed a ballot measure Nov. 4th allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they will turn 18 by the general election date. The measure passed by a 2:1 margin, making Connecticut the 19th state to endorse such a proposal. Read more

New on - America Goes to the Polls BRIEF

NVEN has released a brief on voter turnout in the 2008 General Election, a precursor to our biyearly “America Goes to the Polls” report. Download the America Goes to the Polls Brief (2008 General) here.

Election Day Turnout Among Latino and Youth

Increased youth and Latino voter participation on November 4th played an unprecedented large role in deciding the 2008 presidential election. For more on these groups’ influence this year, see updates from the Pew Hispanic Center and CIRCLE.

New York Times' Polling Place Photo Project

Visit the New York Times' Polling Place Photo Project to search for photos from polling places across the country on Election Day by state, city and type!

EAC Chair Endorses Universal Voter Registration

The chair of the Election Assistance Commission made a case for universal voter registration in the New York Times recently, calling its enaction “the single most important thing that Congress can do right now.” She also advocated the requiring of states to provide early voting. Read the article.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NYT - Election Officials Try to Ease Long Voting Lines

MIAMI -- Unprecedented numbers of early voters in Florida and other southern states are prompting election officials to add equipment, extend schedules and hand out water and chairs to make people comfortable as they wait for hours at polling places. Read more...

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Report: EDR in Nebraska

New Report: EDR in Nebraska (Demos)

This report from R. Michael Alvarez (Caltech) and Jonathan Nagler (NYU) from Demos analyzes likely effects of introducing Election Day Registration in Nebraska, and includes the following estimates of increases in turnout for specific groups of Nebraska citizens under EDR:

  • Overall turnout could go up by 5.4 percent.
  • Turnout among those aged 18 to 25 could increase by 10.6 percent.
  • Turnout for those who have moved in the last six months could increase by 9.5 percent.
  • Turnout for Latinos could increase by 9.0 percent.

Overseas Voters Receive Attention, Help in 2008

The recent launch of several overseas voting organizations (such as Long Distance Voter and Young Voters Overseas) has combined with this year's constant search for the newest untapped voting bloc to sharpen the focus on voters abroad as of late.

Overseas Vote Foundation

During and after its second annual Overseas Voting Summit in Munich this past April, The Overseas Vote Foundation launched both "Military Voter Services" and "Youth Voter Overseas" in order to zero in on specific overseas constituencies. It also partnered with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to create a as well as forged a partnership with FedEx to ship overseas ballots at low or no cost in 2008. Read

Stars and Stripes

Stars and Stripes summed up the issues facing military voters this week in a three-part series on the the difficulty faced by military personnel voting overseas, dealing with the rules and procedures surrounding overseas voting, the struggles voting assistance officers often have in convincing members of the service to take the time to vote, and some of the efforts being made by the smaller public and private entities to make voting easier for military voters overseas.

Federal Voting Assistance Program

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently revamped its overseas voter help website,, based on user feedback and focus group studies. The new site has state-specific instructions for voting absentee and features an automated Voter Registration/Ballot Delivery tool. However, following the website's re-launch, a group of 35 Republican congressmen lately called for even more attention to be paid to military voters overseas. The group wrote a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey in a letter to investigate whether FVAP is fulfilling the entirety of its legal obligation to provide adequate assistance to service members abroad. (Government Computing News)

Long Distance Voter

Examining recent deluge of attention to engaging voters abroad, Debra Cleaver recognized that one important absentee voter population was being passed over- absentee voters in the United States. In response, she launched Long Distance Voter, an online clearinghouse of absentee voter information for all 50 states and DC. Long Distance Voter is the most comprehensive resource available for college students, long-distance commuters and folks simply unsure of where they'll be on November 4th. The site hosts voter registration and verification tools, deadline charts, and ballot applications in an easy-to-navigate format that's perfect for students and first-time voters.

Friday, September 12, 2008

VA No Longer to Ban Voter Registration Drives

After months of back-and-forth, the Veteran’s Administration announced this week that it would no longer ban voter registration drives at VA facilities. According to an article published in The New York Times, the reversal came after months of pressure from state election officials, voting rights groups and federal lawmakers who said that such drives made it easier for veterans to take part in the political process. “V.A. has always been committed to helping veterans exercise their constitutional right to vote, which they defended for all Americans while serving their nation,” Dr. James B. Peake, secretary of veteran’s affairs told the paper. “We’ve now established a uniform approach to helping those of our patients who need assistance to register and to vote.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oregon introduces unique accessible voting system

Electionline reports on Oregon's new Alternative Format Ballot, which allows voters with visual or manual disabilities to cast votes at home...

For the majority of her adult life, Angel Hale was denied a right many Americans take for granted.

In 1986, Hale lost her sight and since then has been unable to cast a ballot without assistance.

All of that changed this May however, when Hale and thousands of other Oregonians with a wide range of disabilities were able to cast their ballots autonomously for the first time thanks to the implementation of Oregon’s unique Alternative Format Ballot (AFB).

“It was liberating,” Hale said by phone from her home in Oregon, the same place where she cast her independent ballot as part of the state’s vote-by-mail system.

Hale, along with other voters with visual and/or manual dexterity impairments in the state now have the ability to cast ballots at home using a computer program that requires Web access and a printer to cast and verify ballots.

The program works in conjunction with alternative devices which assist disabled voters to understand and fill out ballots. Because of this feature the AFB can work with devices like screen readers, sip-puff devices, screen enlargers, Braille displays, switches, joysticks and other assistive technologies.

The user receives the AFB as an electronic document either through e-mail or a CD. Once completed, the voter prints out the AFB and sends it through the mail using the envelopes provided. Like the rest of the state’s absentee ballots, it is placed in a secrecy envelope which is then placed inside the signature envelope, both of which provide security and identification of the voter to officials.

“AFBs are essentially a ballot in a different form which replaces paper. The ballot is processed in the same way as everyone else once sent by mail," said Gene Newton of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Program office in Oregon.

Newton likened the process to voting with a pen or pencil.

For Hale, voting with the new system has been anything but typical.

“The process has been incredible,” Hale said. “Besides working on the pilot for the AFB this is my first time voting independently in my life.

Civil Rights Lawyer Registers Ex-Offenders

The Washington Post has this story on Reggie Mitchell, a leader of a disparate group of grass-roots Democrats and civil rights activists who are trying to register tens of thousands of newly eligible felons.

Californians May Soon Be Able to Register Online

Californians may soon be able to use their computers to register to vote and they can thank the state Department of Motor Vehicles for the chance. The San Francisco Chronicle has this story...

How Design Can Save Democracy

Check out this fun and informative interactive feature from AIGA, as profiled in the New York Times, which helps identify common ballot design problems and offer suggestions for improvements. Read the supporting NYT Opinion piece from AIGA's Richard Grefé and Jessica Friedman Hewitt.

Report: The Myth of Noncitizen Voting

In a recent segment, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs told viewers that substantial evidence suggests that large numbers of non-citizens, including undocumented immigrants, are voting in federal elections and could be the deciding factor in November's elections. The story primarily cites a recent report published by the Heritage Foundation. The report is written by former recess-appointed FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky, whose troubling record on voting rights caused him to withdraw his name from consideration for a permanent FEC seat. Von Spakovsky's report contains gross distortions and represents an attempt to support a policy agenda that would disenfranchise many U.S. citizens. Truth in Immigration has written a report scrutinizing the claims of the Heritage Foundation study.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Resource for Local Races is launching a new 2008 interactive guide to help voters keep track of the 11 gubernatorial, 11 attorneys general and seven secretary of state races and more than 100 high-profile statewide ballot measures.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Alabama's Homeless Vote

Alabama homeless assistance groups are getting out the vote among their constituents, reports the Montgomery Advertiser, which ran a story this week chronicling a 67-year-old homeless man's desire to register and cast his vote this election season.

"This is really the first time since we've been open that there has been a presidential election," said Beth Marra, director of Family Promise of Montgomery, which is beginning to concentrate on registering its homeless constituents to vote. "It's important to have this available to them because they're still citizens. They're working and struggling to get back to stability, but they should still participate in this process because it is their right and responsibility as a citizen."

Michael Stoops, the acting executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said his organization is asking advocate groups in all 50 states to get people registered. Special drives will be held Sept. 21-27 to register homeless and low-income people to vote.

Visit the Coalition's "You Don't Need a Home To Vote" campaign website for resources on registering homeless populations to vote.

Google Launches Election Website

Google Inc has launched a 2008 election website and three new applications that Google argues will help voters get political information online.
"We will be helping voters find information online and helping the parties themselves to connect with voters and draw them in," said Bob Boorstin, director of corporate and policy communications at Google.
The new Google 2008 election Web site features a new YouTube elections video search that asks "What did the candidates say?" which allows users to put in search terms such as "national security" and find exactly where in speeches the candidates said the words, and the "PowerReaders" application, which aggregates political news stories on the web that candidates and a select handful of political reporters are reading.
Visit the site.

GOP seeks probe of military voting assistance programs

A group of 35 congressional Republicans has called for an investigation by the Justice Department into the possible disenfranchisement of millions of military service members in the upcoming presidential election.

“We have failed to adequately protect the right of our troops to participate in our democratic process” by not providing adequate assistance to service members and their families who are away from their homes in the United States or overseas, the 13 senators and 22 representatives wrote in an Aug. 1 letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. “We ask that the DOJ investigate and determine whether the Federal Voting Assistance Program [FVAP] is fulfilling its legal obligations to provide overseas U.S. military service members and their dependents with the necessary information and assistance to register to vote, request and receive absentee ballots, and vote.”

The federal voting assistance program recently revamped its website,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Report: EDR in Nebraska (Demos)

This report from R. Michael Alvarez (Caltech) and Jonathan Nagler (NYU) from Demos analyzes likely effects of introducing Election Day Registration in Nebraska, and includes the following estimates of increases in turnout for specific groups of Nebraska citizens under EDR:
  • Overall turnout could go up by 5.4 percent.
  • Turnout among those aged 18 to 25 could increase by 10.6 percent.
  • Turnout for those who have moved in the last six months could increase by 9.5 percent.
  • Turnout for Latinos could increase by 9.0 percent.
Download the report here.

New Report: 2008 Primary in Review,

A review of the 2008 primary season has found that the dramatically increased number of voters taxed the election system more than any administrative problem. Millions of voters – many of them first timers – crowded polling places around the country, doubling recent turnout in some states.
View full report
July 24, 2008 -
2008 Primary in Review (report) (Adobe PDF

New Report: Voter Confidence in Context and the Effect of Winning

Using national survey data from the 2006 general election, authors Morgan H. Llewellyn, Thad E. Hall and R. Michael Alvarez of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project conclude that voter confidence in the voting process is influenced by the context of the election, as well as who wins and what voting technology is used. Supporters of winning candidates/parties have more post-election confidence in the election than supporters of losing candidates/parties. And voters using electronic voting machines equipped with voter-verified paper audit trails increases voters’ confidence in the process as well.Voter Confidence in Context and the Effect of Winning, August 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

NVEN in the News: MSNBC

Elizabeth Wasserman reports on nonprofits' voter engagement work this election season and on the challenges facing 501(c)(3)s in their attempt to maintain nonpartisanship. Read her discussion of NVEN, which quotes Minnesota Participation Project coordinator Maureen Cisneros!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

American Democracy Institute Launches I Vote You Vote

On July 14, The American Democracy Institute announced the launch of I Vote You
Vote (, a website that empowers voters to guide their non-voting friends
and family members through the registration, education and mobilization process of voter
participation. “Half of young voters cite the encouragement of friends and family as their reason for voting,”said American Democracy Institute President John Hart. “With tools like I Vote You Vote, we’re confident that we can increase young adult voter turnout for the upcoming general election.” Visit the site. Read the press release.

New Resource: Overview of California's 2008 Redistricting Reform

The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) has published a comprehensive overview of California's 2008 redistricting reform proposals to assist legislators, the media, and interested citizens in understanding and comparing the measures. In an easy-to-read chart format, the Overview (pdf) details the major provisions of California's current redistricting law and compares them with the pending legislative and ballot initiative proposals listed below:

  • The current redistricting law, Article XXI of the California Constitution
  • Voters FIRST Initiative, Proposition 11, sponsored by California Common Cause, AARP, Governor Schwarzenegger and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
  • Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 (ACA 1) and AB 3069, sponsored by former Speaker of the California Assembly Fabian Núñez
  • The model redistricting plan previously developed by CGS and other civic organizations

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OVF launches Youth Vote Overseas

Overseas Vote Foundation announced the first site designed specifically for young voters abroad, Youth Vote Overseas, at the 6th Annual American Democracy Project (ADP) National Meeting on June 12, 2008 in Snowbird, Utah.

The Youth Vote Overseas website,
started as a Facebook group called "Youth Vote Overseas," enables users to easily navigate the complicated overseas absentee voting process by helping them fill out the registration form online and providing the mailing address, instructions and resources for further information.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Restoring Voting Rights in Connecticut

Community Partners in Action of Connecticut, one of the nation's oldest non-profit agencies, has launched a statewide campaign to assist ex-offenders with restoration of voting rights. Connecticut recently changed its law to make it more automatic for ex-offenders to register and vote. It is distributing its “Claim Your Rights” poster to display at nonprofit and government agencies across the state.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Missouri DSS Ordered to Ensure Citizens Registered

On July 15, a U.S. District Court in Missouri ordered the Department of Social Services to ensure that each local welfare office in the state asks everyone who seeks help if that person is registered to vote, and to provide a voter registration form for those who aren’t registered. The 1993 “Motor Voter Law” passed by Congress in 1993 requires this activity. ACORN sued the Missouri Department of Social Services after gathering evidence that the federal law wasn’t being followed.

New Movie: "Swing Vote"

“Swing Vote”, a new movie from Disney opening August 1 and starring Kevin Costner, is about an extraordinarily close presidential election. It is so close, the results of one particular state will determine who wins the presidency…and the results in that state, even after a recount, are tied. But because one particular voter in that state cast an unrecorded vote on an electronic voting machine, he is permitted to vote again. Visit the movie's website.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Report: HAVA Impact on First-Time Voters

A new report from the EAC looks at the HAVA-mandated ID requirements for these first-time voters when they go to the polls. View "Case Studies on the Impact of the Help America Vote Act's Identification Requirements for First-Time Voters" (PDF), U.S. Election Assistance Commission (May 2008)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Resources from Nonprofit VOTE!

Tiers of Engagement Nonprofit Checklist

Register to Vote Here Posters

email for more info!

New Report: Youth Turnout in 2008 Primaries (CIRCLE)

More than 6.5 million young people under the age of 30 participated in the 2008 primaries and caucuses. This marks a dramatic increase in youth voter turnout over the last comparable election cycle in 2000. In states where data is available for both the 2008 and 2000 primaries, the national youth turnout rate rose from nine percent in the 2000 primaries to 17 percent in the 2008 primaries. Download the press release. View CIRCLE's fact sheet.

Louisiana BOE begins Voter Registration and Voter Education week

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office is pushing statewide public service announcements this week as Louisiana’s annual Voter Registration and Voter Education week gets under way.

The Secretary of State’s office says it will be using the week to remind voters of the importance of accurate voter registration and of major changes going into effect this year, such as closed congressional primaries. Registration drives are also being held in Caddo and Bossier Parishes.

“It’s gonna be a confusing election,” said Secretary of State Press Secretary Jacques Berry.

Read more.

Cuyohoga County BOE at Festivals this Week

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections expects a high voter turnout for the Nov. 4 presidential election and wants all voters to be prepared.
So, the CCBOE invites the public to attend voter education presentations throughout the county. The staff will answer questions about absentee voting, hand out Election Day poll worker applications, and provide general information about the services offered by the CCBOE. Read more.

Washington Nonprofit aims to Help Disabled Adults

A effort to register more disabled citizens to vote and improve their access to the election process is under way in Washington State, through the Kittitas County Auditor's Office and the nonprofit Central Washington Disability Resources.

Paying for the educational outreach to county disabled residents is a $49,950 grant from the federal Help America Vote Act, administered by the Secretary of State's office.

Gretchen Thatcher, voter outreach coordinator and independent living specialist with the Central Washington Disability Resources, said a variety of meetings, luncheons, workshops and community gatherings are planned. The goal is to contact the disabled of all ages, whether they struggle with sight, hearing, physical mobility, cognitive or learning disabilities.

"We're trying to reach citizens who have had difficulty in the past accessing and participating in the voting process," Thatcher said.

Gatherings will be at local assisted living centers, low-income, subsidized housing locations, senior citizen centers, the state WorkSource job office and others. The first of such gatherings was conducted Friday at noon at the Hal Holmes Center.

Citizens will be able to register to vote at the meetings, learn about the local election process as well as check out one of the auditor's disability voting access units. The electronic units are designed to allow disabled voters to make voting choices no matter what disability they have. Read more.

Monday, July 14, 2008

FedEx, Overseas Vote Foundation Team Up to Ease Ballot Shipping Woes

Seeking to alleviate a top concern for overseas absentee voters, FedEx will team up with the Overseas Vote Foundation- a nonprofit that helps overseas and military voters to participate and vote- and ship ballots for free or at heavy discounts this fall, the company announced this week. Read more.

Over Half of All California Voters Used Mail Ballots

On July 14, the California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, in a press release, noted that for the first time ever, over half the voters who voted in the recent primary cast their votes by mail. Specifically, 58.7% of all voters who voted, voted by mail. California is the third state to have experienced this phenomenon. All votes in Oregon are now cast by mail, and in Washington state in recent elections, the overwhelming majority of votes have been cast by mail. Read the press release.

NEW Report on Voter Turnout!

America Goes to the Polls 2008, a brand-new comprehensive report from the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, compiles state-by-state data on this year's voter turnout phenomenon, examining participation in the 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses and charting its unprecedented increase since 2004 and 2000.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Massachusetts House Passes National Popular Vote

BOSTON - House lawmakers are backing a bill to replace the Electoral College with a direct popular vote when electing the president.

The Massachusetts House gave the bill initial approval on a 119-36 vote. The measure is part of a national initiative designed to garner the support of enough states to sideline the Electoral College. The bill still needs the support of the Senate. Gov. Deval Patrick hasn’t said whether he would sign it. Read more.

Massachusetts House Passes National Popular Vote

BOSTON - House lawmakers are backing a bill to replace the Electoral College with a direct popular vote when electing the president.

The Massachusetts House gave the bill initial approval on a 119-36 vote. The measure is part of a national initiative designed to garner the support of enough states to sideline the Electoral College. The bill still needs the support of the Senate. Gov. Deval Patrick hasn’t said whether he would sign it. Read more.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Call for Proposals: Research on Alternative Voting Procedures

Make Voting Work (MVW), a project of the Pew Center on the States in partnership with the JEHT Foundation, has announced up to $400,000 in new funding available for research examining alternatives to precinct-based election day voting, including early in-person and absentee voting and vote by mail systems. Due date is 8/15/2008. Download the application.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

501(c)(3)s and 501(c)(4)s: AFJ's Question of the Week

From Alliance for Justice's Advocacy Blog, 6/30/2008:

: A 501(c)(4) organization would like to join our coalition of 501(c)(3)s to carry on nonpartisan voter registration and mobilization activities. Can we allow the 501(c)(4) into the coalition?

Answer: Yes, so long as the 501(c)(4) abides by the rules for 501(c)(3)s. As detailed in Alliance for Justice’s publication The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations, 501(c)(3)s may engage in voter registration and education with 501(c)(4)s or 527s as long as the activities are conducted in a strictly nonpartisan manner. While the participating non-501(c)(3)s may engage in their own partisan activities – subject to federal, state, and local tax and election laws – these activities must remain completely separate from the nonpartisan activities conducted jointly with 501(c)(3)s.

New Resource: Seen But Not Heard

Seen but not Heard is a comprehensive analysis of the results of the Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy Project, a joint research effort of OMB Watch, Tufts University, and the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest. It is written from the perspective of one who believes it is right, proper, and beneficial for nonprofits to engage in the formation of public policy. Learn how to order this book.
The Massachusetts House will take up H678, the National Popular Vote Plan bill, on Wednesday, July 9. This Boston Herald article says the Speaker of the House supports the bill.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Michigan Senators Push for No-Excuse Absentee Voting

Democratic Michigan senators held a press conference last week to express their support of Senate Bill 12, which would enact no-excuse absentee voting. Currently, in Michigan, absentee voting is limited to those 60 and older or anyone who will be out of town, is in jail, has religious reasons for not voting on Election Day or needs assistance at the polls.

"We expect record voter registration, record lines at the polls," said Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, who's sponsoring the no-reason absentee measure that is law in about half the states. "Nobody should be disenfranchised because they can't stand in that line on Election Day."

Republicans expressed concerns about fraud.

"There's been no evidence people are being denied the right to vote," Michigan Republican Party spokesman Bill Nowling said. "The public is not clamoring for no-reason ballots. Democrats and unions are clamoring for absentee ballots. That should give people pause."

(David Eggert, AP)

National Popular Vote Vetoed in Rhode Island

On July 4th, RI Governor Carcieri vetoed the national popular vote compact. The measure has the support of 74% of Rhode Islanders across party lines.
In his veto message, Governor Carcieri claimed that "no serious effort had been made" to amend the Constitution to create a national popular vote, despite the fact that amendments have been proposed and voted on in Congress several times in the 20th century.
Read more.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Resource: State by State Felony Disenfranchisement Guide

This comprehensive survey by Margaret Colgate Love describes for each United States jurisdiction the laws and practices relating to restoration of rights and obtaining relief from the collateral disabilities and penalties that accompany a criminal conviction. It is the first-of-its-kind, and it illustrates the extraordinary variety and complexity of state and federal laws that impose a continuing burden on convicted persons long after the court-imposed sentence has been fully discharged. It is an important resource for policymakers interested in offender reentry and reintegration, for practitioners at all levels of the criminal justice system, and for people with a criminal record who are seeking to put their past behind them.

Read The Sentencing Project's executive summary of "Relief from the Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction: A State-By-State Resource Guide."

Order the book.

New Study Shows Political Participation Linked to Gene

California researchers say genes influence participation in a wide range of political activities, including elections.
James H. Fowler and Christopher T. Dawes of the University of California, San Diego, and Laura A. Baker of the University of Southern California identify a link between two specific genes and political participation.
The study shows that individuals with a variant of the MAOA gene are significantly more likely to have voted in the 2000 presidential election, indicating that 53 percent of the variation in voter turnout is due to differences in genes. (From

Saturday, July 5, 2008

New NVEN Report: America Goes to the Polls 2008

2008 has seen a virtual explosion in voter participation. Turnout in this year's primary elections reached levels not seen in well over 30 years. America Goes to the Polls 2008, a brand-new comprehensive report from the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, compiles state-by-state data on this phenomenon, examining turnout in the 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses and charting its unprecedented increase since 2004 and 2000. The report ranks all 50 states by total 2008 primary turnout as a percent of voting eligible population, paying particular attention to turnout disparities between primary and caucus systems, to rapidly-expanding voting blocs (such as young voter and Latinos), and to the impact of certain state-level election reforms.

America Goes to the Polls reports that:
A- Over one in four (28%) of the country’s eligible voters participated in a primary or caucus.
B- Election Day Registration and Early Voting were likely factors in higher turnout for many states.
C- The participation of voters aged 18 – 29 doubled or tripled in almost every state.
D- The Latino vote is continuing its recent upward trend, doubling or nearly doubling in some states.

To download the report, click here. To request a printed copy, please contact NVEN by email.

New Report: Asian American Political Engagement

"Awakening the New 'Sleeping Giant'? Asian American Political Engagement," prepared by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, the University of California Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Multi-Campus Research Program, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, charts Asian American electoral trends in the context of population growth, demographics and immigration status and highlights the challenges of translating Asian Americans’ growing numbers into strength at the polls. Read the report.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Report: IRV in San Francisco, 2004-2006

Francis Neely and Corey Cook examine San Francisco voters’ experience with instant runoff voting (IRV) from 2004-2006. Demographic influences on ranking the candidates – do certain demographic groups rank more candidates than others for example – are found to be very limited. Overall voters are found to have adapted relatively well to IRV. American Politics Research, July 2008. Read the report.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Senate Bill Proposes Automatic Re-Registration

On June 6, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) introduced S. 3100, a bill that would encourage advance voter registration for sixteen year olds, and automatic re-registration of voters who changed their residence. S. 3100 would create a grant program to provide the States with the funds needed to implement pre-registration for sixteen year olds, ensuring that they would be on the voter rolls when they turn eighteen.

This comes on the tail of Florida Governor Charlie Crist June 5th decision to sign SB 866 into law, setting a uniform voter registration age of 16-years-old for the state of Florida. Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“Motor Voter”), citizens can register to vote when they apply for a driver’s license. The new Florida law now allows all eligible drivers to also be eligible to register to vote, and have their registration automatically become active upon reaching voting age.

(Both houses of Rhode Island’s legislature also passed a uniform registration age law this year, which was vetoed by Governor Carcieri on on June 23rd. Similar legislation has also been introduced in California, Michigan and Maryland.)

Read more.

Mississippi Holds Voter Registration Day for Ex-Felons

On 7/2/2008, former State Rep. Erik R. Fleming, along with the ACLU and NAACP hosted the 4th Annual Mississippi Voter Registration Day.

The purpose of the event is to make sure that individuals with felony convictions understand their voting rights. According to national surveys, more than 140,000 Mississippians have lost their voting rights as a result of felony convictions. Most Mississippians who have been convicted of a felony do not know their voting rights once they’ve completed the terms of their sentences; the event educates citizens about the state law and the legal processes to have their voting rights restored. Read more.

Web Workshop: Election Rules for Nonprofits

On 7/24/2008, Alliance for Justice will host "Election Rules for Nonprofits," a web workshop explaining the federal tax rules regarding permissible electioneering activities for 501(c)(3)s. The session will pay particular attention to designing nonpartisan voter registration drives, candidate questionnaires, candidate forums and legislative scorecards. Register today

August 1-3, 2008: National Hip-Hop Political Convention

The National Hip-Hop Political Convention will be held in Las Vegas from August 1-3, 2008, bringing together grassroots activists, non-profit youth organizations, voter engagement groups, and conscious artists in an effort to unify the "hip-hop nation’s" election voice. The NHHPC is a 501 (C)(3) organization dedicated to using the hip-hop culture as a tool to encourage community action and civic engagement and political education.The event will feature a series of speakers, workshops, caucuses, trainings as well as hip-hop music and dance performances.

MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie Gets Out the Vote

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will have a voter information booth at this week's "Taste of Minnesota" festival, where he will kick off his "80 in '08" campaign in an effort to break voter turnout records in this year's general election. Minnesota has consistently had one of the highest turnout rates in the nation (78 percent in 2004) but Ritchie hopes this year to break the last record of 83% set in 1956. Read about the 80 in '08 campaign. (ABC News)

New Report: U.S. Census Bureau

"Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2006", new from the U.S. Census Bureau and based on the November 2006 Current Population Survey's Voting and Registration Supplement, reports that nearly three of every four registered voters went to the polls in 2006, and among registered voters, 71 percent reported voting, compared with 69 percent in 2002.

CA Legislature Passes National Popular Vote Plan

On 06/30, the California Assembly passed National Popular Vote Plan bill (SB 37). The measure already passed the State Senate in 2007.

The bill now will be sent for the second time to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for signature (Governor Schwarzenegger previously vetoed the measure in 2006).

New Report: Universal Voter Registration

A policy summary draft on Universal Voter Registration was recently released for review by the Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program. The summary highlights problems with existing voter registration systems, and offers suggestions for implementing universal voter registration, such as:

• Providing federal funds for states taking steps toward universal voter registration
• Requiring “permanent voter registration” systems
• Requiring Election Day registration

Read the draft.

New Report: The Human Dimension of Elections

"Human Dimension of Elections: how poll workers shape public confidence in elections", a new report from the University of Utah's Institute for Public and International Affairs, explores how the quality of poll workers can affect voter satisfaction.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

PBS Film Documentary Tonight: "Election Day"

On PBS tomorrow at 10 p.m., POV will broadcast "Election Day," a film by Katy Chevigny that combines 11 stories - shot simultaneously on November 2, 2004, from dawn until long past midnight - into one. A segment of the documentary highlights felon disenfranchisement with formerly incarcerated New York City resident Leon Batts who just regained his right to vote. Preparing to cast his first ballot, Batts sees his vote as one representing all individuals denied the right because of a felony conviction. But Batts finds casting a vote more problematic than he anticipated.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Possible Early Voting Site to be set on Arkansas Campus

Washington County Election Commission members on Tuesday agreed to explore the possibility of establishing an early voting site on the University of Arkansas campus. Learn more.

IL Bill for Ranked Voting Sent to Governor

On June 26, the Illinois legislature sent SB 439 to Governor Blagojevich. If signed, the bill would permit the use of special "ranked voting" ballots in municipal elections, to be offered to absentee military/overseas voters. Read more.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Georgia Voter ID Challenged Again

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Democrats have filed another suit challenging Georgia's voter ID law. See the Election Law @Moritz case page for more information and case documents. Releases 'How to Use Mobile for Polling and Engagement'

Check out's new resource, "Mobile Phones for Polling and Engagement." In this guide, you will find a list of benefits, a ten-step plan, a checklist, and case study on the use of mobile phones for polling in Kenya's December 2007 election.

July 17th: NVEN Webinar: Sponsoring a Nonpartisan Candidate Forum

Sign up for NVEN's next webinar, "Sponsoring a Nonpartisan Candidate Forum," taking place Thursday, July 17th from 2:00-3:00pm, EST.

  • Learn how to get candidates to participate
  • Learn the do's and don'ts
  • Learn how to collaborate with others

When: Thursday, July 17th 2:00-3:00pm Eastern Time

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"See How They Run": New Children's Book About Elections Process

See How They Run makes learning about the election process enlightening, enriching, and never boring! A charming and funny book for every future voter.

AIGA's Election Design Top Ten

Read AIGA's (American Institute of Graphic Artists) "Election Design Top Ten" a set of good principles for creating get-out-the-vote posters. The Top Ten list was collected from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) report on ballot and polling place design guidelines, crafted by AIGA in July 2007 and distributed to 6,000 election officials across the country in January 2008.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Disability Nonprofit Celebrates, Gets Out the Vote

An enthusiastic crowd of over 150 people attended the annual meeting of the Progress Center for Independent Living one recent Saturday afternoon at the Mohr Community Center. Celebrating the Forest Park-based, non-profit organization's 20th anniversary, the annual party served as an opportunity to share information, promote advocacy, and empower people with disabilities.

Consumers of the Progress Center, who seek services through the organization, visited several booths offering information on voter registration and rights, paratransit information, and the West Suburban Access News Association, which provides information about programs and services for persons with disabilities.

Community organizer Sam Knight reminded consumers about the "I'd Vote" initiative, encouraging people with disabilities to register and vote in this year's election. "The best way to advocate the rights of people with disabilities is through elected officials," Knight said. "And the only way legislation can be changed is if we are registered voters."
Read more.

Visit the Coalition of Citizens With Disabilities website.

Resouce: Brookings Institution's Candidate Issues Index

This series of charts, compiled by Brookings Institution experts, outlines the candidates' positions on the most critical topics facing America's next President. The indices will be published throughout the 2008 Presidential election cycle. Published so far are indices on Children, Climate Change, Health Care, Immigration, Iraq and Trade. View the indices.

Nonprofit Input Sought on the Future of Communicating with Congress

The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), a nonprofit, non-partisan organization working to improve communications between citizens and members of Congress, has released two new reports. One report, Communicating with Congress: How the Internet Has Changed Citizen Engagement, describes how the Internet has revitalized citizen communication with Congress.
A second report in draft form, entitled Communicating with Congress: Recommendations for Improving the Democratic Dialogue, seeks public comment on a new model for constituent communications and makes specific recommendations for congressional offices, citizens, and advocacy groups. Read the draft, and then take the survey to voice your comments on the topic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Univision and ‘Ya es Hora’ National Partners Join Mayors from Top Hispanic Cities

Univision Communications Inc., the nation's leading Spanish-language media company, and the Ya es Hora (It's Time) national partners, announced the expansion of its civic engagement campaign through new partnerships with mayors in the top Hispanic cities to register and mobilize voters. Mayors partnering in this effort include New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Houston Mayor Bill White. Learn more.

Craigslist BootCamp

Join Craigslist Foundation for a day of knowledge, resources and networking, all focused on how to start and run a vibrant nonprofit. Nonprofit Boot Camp is designed to educate and empower the next generation of nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs, connecting them with valuable industry resources, peers and potential supporters. The 2008 New York Tri-State Area Nonprofit Boot Camp will be held Saturday, August 16 at New York University. For more information about the event and how to register, click here.

Video the Vote

Video the Vote's goal is to be the eyes and ears where ballots are cast and counted. Ordinary citizens, armed with video cameras, become journalists and reporters as they document irregularities at polling places and boards of elections on Election Day. The effort enables the media and public to watch-dog the electoral process across the country. Sign up to volunteer to Video the Vote today! View a list of resources for volunteers, including videography tips, election-day guidelines, and uploading instructions.

MO Session Ends Without Passing Voter ID Reform

Missouri has ended its legislative session without taking action on a bill that would have required voters to provide proof of citizenship to cast a ballot.

Rock the Vote: 109% Increase in Youth Turnout in 2008

Over 6 million voters under age 30 have already voted in 2008, an amazing 109% increase from 2004 and 2000. Read Rock the Vote's Report.

10/28/2008: Alliance for Children and Families National Conference

October 28-30, 2008
Alliance National Conference
Expand your peer connections with the best national network of nonprofit human services leaders at the annual premiere event of the Alliance for Children and Families. This year’s event will be held at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center in Baltimore, MD. From best practices to promising program and organizational innovations to fine tuning your leadership and advocacy skills, this is a conference you, your senior management team, and your board won’t want to miss.



NonprofitVOTE Store to Launch July 1st!

Nonprofit VOTE’s new store will be launching at on July 1st, 2008! The new NonprofitVOTE store will feature November 4th logo T-Shirts, Hats, Stickers, Buttons, Bumper stickers and Tote bags.
Soon after, the NonprofitVOTE store will feature a special “Design-Your-Own” section, where you can pick and choose from a variety of VOTE graphics and logos and T-Shirt colors to create an individualized shirt, tote or hat.

New Spanish Language Guides on!

NVEN has released Spanish language versions of its toolkits, A Nonprofit's Guide to Voter Registration and A Nonprofit's Guide to Hosting a Candidate Forum. The toolkits can be downloaded in full on

Florida Immigrant Coalition Launches Voter Engagement Program

The Florida Immigrant Coalition is conducting its first voter-mobilization project and hopes to sign up 4,300 new Haitian, Latino, and community-college students between June and November. The Voter Engagement Project is currently hiring Coordinators to register new voters, get 6,000 people to the polls for the November 2008 elections, and develop existing organizations and their leaders in Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Highland counties. Contact to learn more.

EAC Releases Asian Language Election Glossaries

The EAC recently released election terms glossaries in 5 Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese), as part of the Commission's Language Accessibility Program. The Program comprises working groups of local election officials, advocacy groups, and research and public policy organizations, who advise the EAC on how to best meet language accessibility requirements.
Read more.