Monday, February 28, 2011

"Young Black Voters: The Future of American Politics"

Last month the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosted a webinar featuring Dr. Cathy Cohen--a political science professor at the University of Chicago--who addressed "Young Black Voters 2008 to 2012: The Future of American Politics."

The 2008 presidential election saw an increase of 3.4 million young voters, when youth turnout rose to 53% (an 11% increase over 2000). Black and Latino youth fueled the gains, and in fact, 53% of black youth voted in 2008, 4% more than white youth.

One of Dr. Cohen’s major arguments was that there is no homogeneous "youth vote" and lumping younger voters together under that heading does a major disservice to all young people.

Why is it important to distinguish between different youth factions? Youth have different views on various issues. For example, 69% of black youth think that racism is still a major problem, compared to 51% of Latino youth and 31% of white youth. And when asked if they feel like a full and equal citizen, 66% of white youth and 63% of Asian youth said yes, while only 43% of black youth and 43% of Latino youth said yes.

Moreover, only 55% of black students graduate from high school--compared to 78% of white students--and 35% of black children live in poverty. Currently, black men have the highest unemployment rate among youth. The various individuals who make up the "youth" voting bloc vote for different reasons and are motivated by different issues. That is why it is important not to categorize them all together as simply "youth."

Reaching out to all young voters is critical because individuals 18-35 are the group least likely to be contacted by a political party. College is traditionally an institution that mobilizes young people, which means that we must have other methods of targeting youth that are not enrolled in college.

In 2008, we saw many innovative mobilization strategies, such as the use of community organizations and new media. Dr. Cohen said that the key to organizing young black voters in 2012 will be to reach first time voters and non-college young people through innovative and non-traditional strategies, with messaging on issues that are important to them. Through this work, we can counter the conventional wisdom that black youth are not interested in politics.

By heightening the involvement of young people, we are building sustained civic communities. Cultivating a sense of civic duty and encouraging lifelong voting habits among all youth are critical for national civic health and the future of our democracy. At Nonprofit VOTE, we think that nonprofit organizations and social service agencies have a role to play in this movement. Such organizations are well-positioned to begin to address these participation gaps and reach out to potential voters.

Learn more about Dr. Cohen and her work.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

And the Oscar Goes to...

Unfortunately you'll have to wait until Sunday night to find out who takes home the coveted awards. But until then, read on to learn how actors, directors, and films make it to podium.

Oscar Votes 1-2-3 (a project of FairVote) explains the voting system utilized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For more than sixty years, the Academy has used proportional voting to nominate candidates in all award categories.

Choice voting or "single transferable vote" is used to select nominees in all categories and is a process designed to accommodate a large number of candidates while accurately reflecting the preferences of voters.

The 5,500 voting members of the Academy are divided into voting groups based on their professional specialty. In the nominating elections, these groups vote only for candidates within their specialty. However, in the Best Picture category, all 5,755 academy members get to vote in the nominating contest. Read a detailed explanation of how nominees are selected.

Starting in 2009, things changed slightly for the Best Picture award, which is now selected by instant runoff voting. Read more about how the Best Picture is chosen.

Want to get in on the action? You can vote using FairVote’s instant runoff ballot. And don't forget to tune in Sunday night to see if you favorites made the cut!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nonprofit VOTE Webinar Series Returns in March!

The dates are set for our first two webinars of 2011! Please join us for:

Getting a Seat at the Table: What Nonprofits Should Know About Redistricting

Wednesday, March 16th at 2:00pm Eastern
Redistricting is right around the corner and critical decisions will be made that can affect our communities, our missions, and our funding for the next decade. Tune in to learn the basics and find out how your nonprofit can get involved.

Featured Presenter: Justin Levitt is an Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and author of "The Citizen's Guide to Redistricting."


Power in Numbers: Putting 2010 Census Data to Use
Thursday, April 7th at 2:00pm Eastern
If you work for a nonprofit, chances are you've come across or used Census data. Learn more about how you can access and use this powerful data. Whether you're an expert at using Census data, an intermediate, or brand new, this webinar will give you practical tips and takeaways for finding, using, and applying Census information to your organization's mission, programs, and fundraising.

Featured Presenters: Terri Ann Lowenthal is an independent legislative and policy consultant specializing in the Census and federal statistics. Terri Ann is a leading national expert on the Census and the Census Project 2010, as well as other nonprofit sector initiatives. Todd Clausen is the Data Center Coordinator at the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee and trains nonprofits in using Census and other data to build capacity and promote community-based decision-making.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FVAP Poster & Slogan Contest

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) provides U.S. citizens worldwide with nonpartisan information and assistance to ensure they can participate in our democratic process, no matter where they live or work.

Now, the FVAP is asking all U.S. citizens to help them gear up for their 2012-13 outreach campaign. They are soliciting ideas for a simple slogan that expresses the importance of voting and will inspire others to vote, as well as artwork for a poster that illustrates what it means to be an American voter anywhere in the world.

You can submit slogans and designs through April 8th. The winning slogan and design will be featured online, in the 2012-13 Voting Assistance Guide, on posters, and more.

If you don't have an idea, you can still participate! From April 11-15, the public will be able to vote for their favorites. Read the full slogan and poster contest details.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

E-learning Resources from the FEC

Did you know the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has e-learning resources? While some are geared toward candidates and campaign regulations, others are targeted toward individual voters. These include:

An overview of the Commission and the laws it administers and enforces.
An overview of the volunteer activities individuals may engage in to support federal candidates.
An overview of the limitations and prohibitions that apply to campaign contributions.

Ever wonder what candidates do with their leftover campaign funds? The FEC also covers what candidates can and can't do with the unspent portion of contributions.

Seen them all? Sign up to be notified when new materials become available.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

EAC Maps Certified Voting Systems

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has created an interactive map that shows where federally certified voting systems were used during the 2010 federal election. The map allows users to access information about EAC-certified voting systems, such as the county in which they were used, test reports issued during the certification process, and any advisory alerts. This mapping tool helps the EAC better communicate with the public about important issues such as potential performance problems.

The map also depicts state requirements for voting system certification: sixteen states have no federal requirement; nine require testing to federal standards; thirteen states require testing by a federally accredited laboratory, and; twelve states require federal certification. Since 2007, under the Help America Vote Act, the EAC has accredited voting system test laboratories and certified voting equipment. State participation is the program is voluntary.

What kind of voting system does your county use?

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Show Your Love for Elections

Happy Valentine’s Day! After you shower your loved ones with attention and sugar, think about sharing you love for elections with another nonprofit!

The 2012 election cycle may seem far away, but it's closer than you think! We have seen time and again that nonprofits play a critical role in helping the people they serve get out and vote. Because your nonprofit already does voter engagement work, you are well positioned to mobilize other nonprofits. Invite another organization to get involved now so that they can prepare before it's election crunch time. Take the first step today and forward the February Nonprofit Voter to one of your nonprofit colleagues.

Thanks for sharing the love, and don’t forget to spread the word!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Nonprofit Election Survey Results

Nonprofit VOTE would like to thank the hundreds of local nonprofits and service providers that responded to our online survey about their 2010 voter engagement activities. The survey examined how nonprofit staff and stakeholders approached voter engagement work, which activities were most common, which materials were used most frequently, their value to the nonprofit, and more. Here is some of what we found:
  • In the past, nonprofits have frequently equated voter engagement with voter registration. However, equal numbers of survey respondents reported carrying out voter registration, voter education, and get-out-the-vote activities. This is an encouraging sign and demonstrates that many nonprofits have embraced a broader approach to voter engagement work.
  • Almost a quarter of respondents either sponsored or co-sponsored a candidate forum!
  • Beyond voter engagement activities, many nonprofits undertook measures to support and improve our democracy--nearly half of respondents encouraged staff and others to volunteer as poll workers, while nearly a quarter distributed information on election reform.
  • Nonprofits continue to utilize Nonprofit VOTE’s website and complimentary materials, with posters and fact sheets being the most popular.
Now for the best news--almost all of the survey's respondents reported that they are already planning to promote voter participation in 2012! Are you?

Download the full report to learn more about nonprofit voter engagement in 2010.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Census Releases New Data

...and it doesn't bring good news for New Orleans. Last week, the Census Bureau released new data showing that New Orleans experienced a population loss of 140,845 residents--a drop of 29% from 2000. In addition to losing New Orleans city residents, Louisiana also lost a congressional seat (down to six from seven).

Because of the exodus in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the percentage of black population fell to 60.2% from 67.3%. Jacques Morial, a community organizer, thinks that "The city is more affluent, more Latin and a little whiter than it was before Katrina." Many poor residents have stayed away because fewer than a quarter of the city's 4,200 public housing units demolished by the storm have been rebuilt. "The people who've had the hardest time getting back to New Orleans are those who had the fewest resources," said Tom Piazza, author and city resident.

In addition to Louisiana, the Census Bureau also released data for Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia because their election cycles are among the earliest. Check out the latest Census widget below for more details.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

NASS to Host Winter Conference

The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS)--a Nonprofit VOTE partner--will host its 2011 Winter Conference in Washington, DC this weekend from February 10-14.

While the conference covers numerous topics under the jurisdiction of Secretaries of State, many sessions are devoted to discussing election-related issues. For example, one will address the implementation and future plans for the MOVE Act as well as the enforcement of federal voting laws. Additionally, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission will give an update on their current status. During the conference, Michael McDonald, a member of the Nonprofit VOTE Advisory Board will present an "Analysis of Voter Turnout, Voter Registration, and Early Voting in the 2010 General Election."

See the full agenda and look out for conference attendee tweets!

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Advocacy for Nonprofits - Web Training in Spanish

Taller en espanol sobre promocion y defensa de causas de organizaciones 501(c)(3)

The Alliance for Justice is offering its lobbying and advocacy web training in spanish. It has four scheduled for 501(c)(3) nonprofits in 2011. The first one is Tuesday, February 15 at 2 ET. For more information, go here. Or contact AFJ at