Friday, July 31, 2009

The EAC relases new findings on voter registration

Every other year, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) submits a report to Congress “assessing the impacts of [the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)] on the administration of elections.” The NVRA aims to increase voter registration and participation and to ensure the accuracy of elections. The data released in the newest report, collected through surveys submitted to the 55 states and territories, reveals interesting findings about the elections taking place from 2006-2008, including:
  • 81.6% of the nation’s voting-age population was registered to vote for the 2008 election
  • Four states (Georgia, Illinois, Utah, and West Virginia) indicated an increase of over 20% in the number of active registrants
  • 23.5 million registrants are on the list of inactive voters
  • 60.3 million voter registration forms were received between the 2006 and 2008 elections. Of these, 1.7 million were invalid ore rejected applications and 3.6 million were duplicate applications. 24.6 million were new, valid registrations, and 20.8 million requested a change in name, address, or party registration
  • 18.3 million notices of removal from the registration list were sent out
  • 12.7 million voters were removed from registration rolls. Reasons for removal include a failure to vote in two Federal general election cycles, a felony conviction, requests by voters, and mental incompetence
  • 3.6 million registration applications were filed on election days in 2008 in the 17 states that reported this data.

Click here to view the full report.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Washington Post endorses Election Day Registration in voting bill for District of Columbia. The Post reports the bill introduced by D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) would also allow 16-year-olds to pre-register and 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they would be 18 by the general election. All these boost youth voting and have worked well in other states.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Online voter registration takes hold in Louisiana, Kansas

Image- City of Kirkland, WA
Along with Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Utah, both Louisiana and Kansas will soon be allowing eligible citizens register to vote online.

Louisiana's newly-signed House Bill 520 will allow state residents with state IDs to access online voter registration. Kansas SOS Ron Thornburgh formally announced the state's new online voter registration initiative this week - already about 100-150 Kansans have signed up online.

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Registering college students to vote: most and least effective methods

(Photo- EGP)
Classroom registration is both the most effective and cost-efficient way to register college students to vote, demonstrates a new study recently featured by the Voting Technology Project.

The study (“I Will Register, if You Teach Me How”) employed randomized field experiments on voter registration techniques at 37 college campuses, its results debunking the idea that email, mail campaigns and mailbox-stuffers are best practices in getting college students on campus to register to vote.

Only classroom mobilization initiatives- led either by professors or students- ended up leading significantly more students to sign up to vote.

Click here to view a PDF.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dramatic increase in minority vote confirmed

Chart - Charles Blow, NYT

About 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, an increase of 5 million over 2004. Of that increase, almost all were ethnic minorities, according to a new table package released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The increase included about 2 million more black voters, 2 million more Hispanic voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters.

These figures are in line with electorate trends over the past quarter century, during which white share of the electorate has fallen 15 points, while the rate of voting among minorities has doubled since 1992. (NYT) According to the Census Bureau, voter turnout among blacks, Asians and Hispanics each increased by about 4 percentage points over the 2004 election. Conversely, the voting rate for non-Hispanic whites decreased by 1 percentage point over 2004. (See chart).

Friday, July 24, 2009

New report shows effect of EDR on youth voter turnout in 2008

With a record youth voter turnout in the 2008 election, allowing voters to register at the polls on Election Day was the most effective way to boost youth voter turnout according to a new report from CIRCLE analyzing the impact of state election law reforms on young people in the 2008 election.

Read more.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Twin Civic Summits in the Twin Cities

This week two civic participation summits head to the land of lakes and high voter participation, Minnesota. Check out the agendas for the National Civic Summit July 15-17 and annual meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State. Lots of civic and voter participation leaders gathering. The Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network and its Nonprofits Count! campaign is co-leading a workshop with the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights on the key role for nonprofit participation in the 2010 Census. The NASS convening could tell us a great deal about future directions for universal voter registration and other election reforms.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MN Sec. of State Mark Ritchie comments on Coleman/Franken recount

From MPR News.

"Minnesota has led the way in demonstrating that you can have a contentious race and a close election and still be able to conduct a recount in a way that keeps the public informed and encourages trust in the outcome," Ritchie praised in a recent commentary to Minnesota Public Radio News. The recount, he said, ultimately came down to 14 contested ballots, and could not have been conducted so successfully and with such transparency had the state's election system and recount procedures not been crafted so well.

He cautioned, however, that there is more work to do in ensuring the most effective and inclusive electoral process possible. "The 2008 U.S. Senate election has now reached its conclusion, but the most important part of this experience is still to come," Ritchie states. "We need to take the lessons learned as a result of this process, and use them to further improve our already strong elections system"

Read the complete commentary.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Creative campaigns: Making Census 2010 education fun

Cast of Telemundo's Mas Sabe el Diablo, a new Spanish telenovela which will feature a Census worker as a character in upcoming Fall 2009 episodes.
"She will be interacting with people who are confused by the process," Telemundo President Don Browne says. "This character will help people understand why the system works ... to try to really make it clear that this is something positive and constructive." (USA Today)

A recent piece from USAToday featured some fun and interactive tactics that Census offices and their local outreach partners are using to get out the word and increase trust around the 2010 Census among traditionally undercounted constituencies, including Latinos and American Indians.

  • Telemundo will be including a new character on its show Mas Sabe el Diablo - a single mother that takes a job as a Census taker (see left).
  • In South Florida, Census partners are considering distributing Chinese fortune cookies with "Make Yourself Count" fortunes in Chinese.
  • In Los Angeles, CA, American Indian youths in a summer training program at Fox Entertainment will write, shoot and produce public service announcements about the Census.
  • In the Chicago region, the Census Bureau has recruited 10 former NFL stars to visit classrooms. They will give out autographed photos that carry a Census message on the back.
  • In Webb County, TX, local Census partners are developing Bingo cards with a 2010 Census logo and slogans in Spanish.
  • The Children's Museum of Houston, TX features a new "Kidtropolis, USA" exhibit, where kids become citizens of this fictitious city. Activities include voting and filling out mock Census forms.

In addition, Local Census offices are setting up social networking accounts on pages like Facebook and Twitter.

Read more.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fill out your Census form.

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R, MN) has been garnering some attention of late for her bizarre announcement on Fox News that she intends to only fill out part of her US Census form in April of 2010. The Minnesota Star Tribune has a terrific response to her statement:
"...The two-term congresswoman from Minnesota's Sixth District bluntly said she will not fully fill out the census form, a misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000. Her census fear-mongering clearly could push others to do the same. What Bachmann is doing -- on national television, no less -- is encouraging people to break the law. That's not right-wing. That's not conservative. That's just wrong." (MN Star Tribune)

To be clear on the legalities:
  • Title 13 of the U.S. Code prohibits anyone from accessing Census data (even the President of the United States). Doing so is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 under the Sentencing Reform Act (U.S. Census Bureau).
  • The same Title XIII requires participation in the US Census by anyone asked to fill out the census form. Neglecting to answer a question on the form, or giving a false answer, is against the law. (Title XIII.7.221)

On top of this, consider:
  • Each person not counted loses accurately in their current location loses their community over $1,000 per year for the next decade.
  • Redistricting and apportionment is done based on the Census count, and every person counted or not counted makes a big difference. In Bachmann's home state of MN, for example, missing just one person in every township would mean losing a Congressional seat in 2010.
  • The Census snaps a picture of our entire community- young and old, rich and poor, black and white, citizen and non-citizen. It's important that every face is included in that shot, so that we can have the best possible view of what our country looks like.
Get familiar with your 2010 Census form- download a sample here!