Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Voterize Your MLK Day Event

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day widely accepted as "a day on, not a day off" most nonprofits have taken the opportunity to promote special projects and events.

To help, the HandsOn Network hosted a series of webinars for nonprofits on how to get the most out of their MLK Day of service and other volunteerism organizations are proffering tips and ideas.

Here's another: your nonprofit can get more out of your MLK Day event by incorporating a voter engagement piece. Committing your nonprofit to voter engagement is a wonderful way to honor the work that Martin Luther King, Jr. (and others) did for the civil rights movement and the fight to ensure full voting rights for all.

One nonprofit in Abbeville, Louisiana has a great plan: Herod Village is sponsoring a mock election to kick-off its MLK Day celebration. A spokesman for Herod Village said that the purpose of the mock election is to "raise voter awareness, increase voter participation, to allow voters to examine and understand the voting machines, to register unregistered voters, and to prepare the youth voter for the 2012 election." Voters will elect a student mayor of Herod Village in addition to voting on two propositions.

While you might not be able to organize a mock election by next week, there's still plenty your nonprofit can do: If your event has a sign-in table, put out voter registration cards. When a volunteer or client arrives, ask if they would like to register to vote. If you have someone speaking at your event, have them talk briefly about the importance of registering to vote and voting on Election Day. You can also distribute our list of the Top 10 Reasons to Register and Vote and put up a sign to let attendees know that they can register on-site.

Whatever your MLK Day event is, chances are you can easily incorporate at least one voter engagement activity and help carry on the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Be sure to let us know how your event goes next Monday!

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