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.