Friday, April 29, 2011

Sacramento Makes Redistricting a City Affair

In California, redistricting has become a public affair with the creation of the new Citizens Redistricting Commission. But Sacramento is making the local redistricting process more public and transparent. They've developed a free online tool that lets anyone participate by drawing their own district boundaries for consideration by the city's committee, and eventually city council.

Sacramento has a history of engaging the public in the redistricting process. In the last redistricting cycle the city sought public input by offering a free GIS-based desktop redistricting tool (before the rise of online tools). The city's IT manager noted that "By offering a central place to create and submit plans, we can expand participation and communicate the objectives and challenges of redistricting."

The program was configured with the latest data from the 2010 Census, and is available during the six weeks leading up to the May 16 public plan submission deadline. Learn more about Sacramento's redistricting process.

(Image Source)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pushing for EDR in New Jersey

Last week the Rutgers Law School-Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic filed a suit challenging New Jersey's 21-day advance voter registration requirement. The suit claims that advanced registration is an obsolete and undue burden on the constitutional right to vote, particularly with the rise of modern technology and New Jersey's Statewide Voter Registration System.

Plaintiffs include the Rutgers University Student Assembly, the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, the New Jersey ACLU, New Jersey Citizen Action, and individuals who lost their right to vote in recent elections because their registrations were not properly processed in time for Election Day. The suit was filed in Middlesex County because several students at Rutgers' New Brunswick campus couldn't register on time or had their votes thrown out in recent elections.

Making elections more accessible leads to increased voter turnout: "On average, states that allow same-day registration get 8 percent more turnout." The top two turnout states in 2010--Maine and Minnesota--both permit Election Day Registration. In addition to the convenience factor, the groups also have concerns about voting by provisional ballot, claiming that around 25% of provisional ballots cast in 2008 ended up being disqualified.

A similar lawsuit in Connecticut was recently dismissed by a judge because the state's electronic voter registration database was unable to handle same-day registrations. If the case is successful, New Jersey would become the first state to implement Election Day registration through the courts, rather than legislation.

(Image Source)

Friday, April 22, 2011

May Webinar: Nonprofits Increase Voting - New Research

Please join us for our upcoming webinar:

Nonprofits Increase Voter Participation: New Research from the Field
Thursday, May 12th at 2:00pm Eastern
Learn about exciting new evidence documenting the impact nonprofits have when they talk to their clients and constituents about voting. Professor Kelly LeRoux will discuss a new study that tracked the outcomes of nonprofit service providers that contacted their clients/constituents about voting.

Conducted during the 2010 midterm election with assistance from Nonprofit VOTE and the Michigan Nonprofit Association, the study reveals that when nonprofits discussed voting with clients, their likelihood of both voting and talking to their families and friends about the election increased. Professor LeRoux, the principal researcher, will share her findings and discuss the implications for nonprofits and our role in increasing voter participation in 2012 and beyond.

Featured Presenters: Kelly LeRoux is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she teaches courses in nonprofit management. Dr. LeRoux's research has been published in more than a dozen public and nonprofit management journals, including the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, the Public Administration Review, and the Journal of Urban Affairs. She is currently working on a book titled "Nonprofits and Voter Mobilization in the U.S." Rachid Elabed is the Civic Engagement and Field Coordinator with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)--one of the organizations that participated in the study--and leads their advocacy, field and civic engagement work in Michigan.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Iowa Completes Redistricting Process

The wait is finally over in Iowa. On Tuesday Governor Terry Branstad signed the state's new redistricting plan, officially eliminating one of Iowa's five previous congressional seats.

The new map was drawn by an independent body and approved by both houses of the state legislature before being signed by the governor.

What that means for legislators in Iowa has yet to be determined. Reuters reported that so far at least two of the state's congressmen have said they will move "into another district rather than face a primary against an incumbent of their own party."

Redistricting went quickly in Iowa because the process is so straightforward. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for every state. Last week Virginia's Governor vetoed the map he was presented with.

Learn more about redistricting by watching our webinar on what nonprofits should know about redistricting and visiting our redistricting resources page.

(Image Source)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vermont Joins National Popular Vote Movement

On Friday, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin will sign the state's National Popular Vote bill into law. The National Popular Vote plan is a nationwide effort to award the presidency to the winner of the national popular vote, bypassing the Electoral College.

Vermont joins the District of Columbia (who passed it in October), along with Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington.

However, the Agreement Among the States to elect the President by National Popular Vote will only take effect when it has been approved by enough
states to guarantee that the majority of Electoral College votes would go the winner of the national popular vote. Learn more about the National Popular Vote.

(Image source)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Nonprofits Helped Make the 2010 Census Possible

We've had a lot to say about the Census recently, and before we dial it back there's one more thing Nonprofit VOTE has to get off its chest--thank you! We want to recognize nonprofits in all 50 states who worked on the Census and our Nonprofits Count! 2010 campaign.

You made an incredible difference by reaching hard-to-count populations. All manner of nonprofits leveraged their reach and trust to encourage Census response, and many served as official Questionnaire Assistance Centers and Be Counted sites.

Over 24,350 local nonprofits used Nonprofit VOTE resources to promote the Census in their communities. Our Nonprofits Count! 2010 campaign trained over 2,300 local nonprofits on how to promote Census participation, distributed more than 6,300 toolkits, and provided resources to Census outreach programs in 18 states and through 25 national nonprofit partners' networks. Together, we helped ensure that our clients and communities were counted!

So give yourself a pat on the back and relax for, oh let's say, eight or nine years. After all, we want to make sure you're well rested and able to do it again in 2020! And if you're looking for a project to tide you over, try your hand at nonpartisan voter engagement!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Montana Governor Vetoes Bill with Flair

Both the Montana House and Senate had passed legislation that would have ended Election Day Registration, thus limiting opportunities for eligible voters to cast their ballots. Luckily Governor Brian Schweitzer was on hand to emphatically veto HB 180. How? With his newly minted “VETO” brand.

In March, Schweitzer registered his "VETO" brand with the Montana Department of Livestock, paying $100 out of his own pocket. At the time a USA Today article wondered if he would "actually burn bills with a hot brand on his desk, a possible violation of the state's Clean Indoor Air Act?" Well, we now know that the answer to that particular question is "no," but that he certainly will outside.

And yes, that is a picture of Governor Schweitzer branding one of the 17 bills he vetoed yesterday. Glad to see that democracy is still exciting in the Wild West!

(Image Source)


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

America Goes to the Polls 2010 - Voter Turnout Report

Nonprofit VOTE is pleased to present the latest installment in our series of voter turnout reports:

America Goes to the Polls 2010: A Report on Voter Turnout in the 2010 Election
Beyond the official state-by-state turnout rankings, this report details key voting trends such as the wide gap in youth turnout, the rise in early voting, and the continued growth of the Latino electorate. It also includes ideas for streamlining and improving voter registration practices.

In 2010, voter turnout dropped off steeply from the 2008 presidential election but was slightly higher than in 2006. Other key points:
  • 42 million fewer voters cast ballots in the 2010 midterm than in the 2008 presidential election.
  • Maine overtook Minnesota as the number one state in voter turnout--Minnesota had been first in turnout in the last seven national elections--while Texas finished last.
  • Voter turnout was ten points higher in the nine states with Election Day Registration. Two of the newest states to adopt Election Day Registration are Iowa (2008) and Montana (2006).
  • Early voting by mail and in-person continues to rise. An estimated 27-29% of voters cast ballots early in 2010, well above the 19% who voted early in 2006.
Want to know more? Download a copy of America Goes to the Polls 2010 and visit our voter turnout section to learn more.



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April is National County Government Month

At least according to the National Association of Counties. So first off, thanks to the many county government employees and officials who help make our elections (and plenty more) work. To honor local government and help promote election procedures and information, the Election Assistance Commission has developed detailed guidebooks and educational resources on a variety of election administration topics.

Resources include a Voter's Guide to Federal Elections, Glossaries of Election Terminology, Pollworker Guidebooks, and more.

Luckily, nonprofits can also take advantage of these materials, as many are available online. These are excellent tools for encouraging greater participation in elections, particularly among potential pollworkers and other democracy facilitators.


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Census Bureau Looks Ahead

The year 2010 may be over, but the Census Bureau is still hard at work compiling data and reports for states and government offices. Nevertheless, they're also looking forward to the next decennial challenge--the 2020 Census.

Although the 2010 Census was conducted using a 10-question paper form, this could likely change in 2020 as Census Director Robert Groves said, "We've committed to the 2020 Census having Internet options." While embracing innovation, the Bureau is not committing to any particular technology yet, noting how quickly it can change. Still, iCensus2020 has already imagined what it could look like on today’s iPhone.

The Census Bureau has begun testing web-based questionnaires for the monthly American Community Survey. Moving online would not be groundbreaking, considering countries such as Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Norway, Singapore, and Brazil already collect census data online. (In fact, about 20 percent of respondents used the Internet in Canada's last census.) But it is an important factor in counting more people and reaching them more effectively, all with the potential to save money in the process.

Learn more about what the Census has in store in Groves' prepared statement for the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security.

(Image Source)


Friday, April 8, 2011

Access Yesterday's Census Webinar

Whether or not you were able to join us for yesterday's webinar "Power in Numbers: Putting 2010 Census Data to Use," you can still access it online!

You can download both the PowerPoint presentation and the audio portion (in MP3 format) or watch the full presentation online.

If you have questions for any of our presenters, feel free to contact them directly.

Terri Ann Lowenthal
Consultant Specializing in Census and Federal Statistics

Todd Clausen
Data Center Coordinator
Neighborhood Data Center Program, Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee
(414) 344-3933 x140

Lindsey Hodel
Director of Training and Partnerships
Nonprofit VOTE
(303) 910-5700

Here are some of the 2010 Census resources discussed during the webinar:
The Census Bureau has also produced two briefs:
To access Census, American Community Survey, and other types of data, visit the Census Bureau's American Fact Finder and the New American Fact Finder (still in beta). Learn how in a tutorial on using the Fact Finder.

Other interesting resources include the Current Population Survey's Voting and Registration Report, as well as great visual tools such as the 2010 Census Data Widget and the New York Times' Mapping America Project.

To find even more information, check out the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Upcoming Webinar on Census Data

Register now for Thursday's webinar!

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. She is a leading national expert on the Census, the Census Project 2010, and other nonprofit sector initiatives. Todd Clausen is the Data Center Coordinator for the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee and trains nonprofits in using Census and other data to build capacity and promote community-based decision-making.

Hope you can join us!



Friday, April 1, 2011

Changing Names: NVEN is now Nonprofit VOTE

You may have noticed that we've changed our name from the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network (NVEN) to Nonprofit VOTE. What's the difference? Absolutely nothing! With the evolution of the organization we've decided that Nonprofit VOTE more accurately describes the structure and focus of our work. The change has been gradual, so this may not be news to you. Nevertheless, we wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of the transition.

While our name may be slightly different (and shorter) our goals remain the same. We are here to provide nonprofits with tools, information, and resources to help their clients and communities participate and vote.

With that said, we have a few minor requests. Moving forward, please make sure to reference us as Nonprofit VOTE. If our old name or logo appears on your website or elsewhere, we ask that you please replace it. If you need copies of our logo for either the web or print, we'll be happy to provide them.

If your website doesn't already include voting information, consider making it more visible by adding the Nonprofit VOTE logo or a web badge that links to voting information. The process is simple and you can even select a state-specific badge.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns!