Tuesday, November 29, 2011

RSVP for Thursday's Webinar

There's still time to register for this week's webinar (and our final one of 2011). We'll help you start planning for next year's general election and how your nonprofit can maximize your impact with the resources you already have.

Plan Ahead: Building a Voter Engagement Timeline for 2012
Thursday December 1st, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

The 2012 presidential election will be here soon, and it's time to start thinking about your nonprofit's plan for registering, educating, and engaging voters. This webinar will cover when, where, and how to incorporate nonpartisan voter engagement activities into your work. We'll also help you develop and tailor a 2012 voter engagement timeline for your organization. Don't miss this opportunity to start building a voter engagement plan for 2012 now!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Every State a Shot at the Primaries

As the FEC continues to update the 2012 primary calendar, four states now have presidential primaries scheduled in January; the first is a full 10 months before the general election.

States jockeying for an "early" primary date is nothing new, but four January elections have many questioning the free for all scheduling scramble. Although it looks like the danger of a December primary has passed, the possibility is a good reason to consider a longstanding proposal from the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

NASS adopted the Rotating Regional Presidential Primaries Plan back in 1999 to reign in the front-loaded nominating calendar by establishing a system that gives every state the chance to play a role.

The plan would group party primaries (or caucuses) by region and a lottery would determine which region would begin the sequence (during the next presidential election the first region would move to the end of the sequence). Primaries in each state of a given region would be scheduled on or soon after the first Tuesday in March, April, May, or June of presidential election years, although Iowa and New Hampshire would retain their leading positions in the presidential selection process.

The regional groupings under the NASS plan are:
  1. East: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
  2. South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 
  3. Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. 
  4. West: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Guam.
Of course, this is just one proposal. What do you think of the plan and how else could we improve the primary scheduling system?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share just a few of the many things Nonprofit VOTE is grateful for this year.

We're thankful for…
  • Our amazing network of state and national partners and their commitment to expanding nonprofit voter engagement among their affiliates.
  • Election Day Registration because it ensures that everyone who wants to vote can, without having to worry about missing the registration deadline. 
  • Early voting opportunities--both by mail and in-person--that make voting more convenient and accessible for everyone.
  • The upcoming 2012 election, because after two years of nonstop talk and speculation, it's finally less than a year away. (Sign up for our December 1st webinar on making a 2012 voter engagement plan.)
  • The elections officials, Secretaries of State, local elections boards, and registrars who make elections happen!
This is a short list and doesn't even begin to cover the thousands of local nonprofits registering and engaging voters everyday. So while we don't have space to write out every thing, person, election reform, and organization we're thankful for, we still want to say "Thank you!"

Happy Thanksgiving from Nonprofit VOTE!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

NCAI Launches Native Vote 2012

November is well known for Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and daylight savings, but it's also American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

In that vein, we wanted to applaud the commitment and effort of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) to promote voter engagement in Native communities. Earlier this month, NCAI officially launched the Native Vote 2012 campaign during their 68th annual convention. Native Vote has been around for a while, but it has become more prominent in recent years and has helped highlight the role of Native voters in both the national and local political process.

Although the 2012 presidential election is still a year away, the timing of this launch makes it clear that civic leaders in the American Indian community recognize the need and importance of increasing voter participation rates. We hope that this move will inspire other groups across the country to begin thinking about how they plan to register, educate, and engage voters in 2012.

Make sure your nonprofit is one of them, and help ensure your clients are represented and empowered. For ideas, join our December 1st webinar Plan Ahead: Building a Voter Engagement Timeline for 2012. And for more information on the American Indian population, check out this collection of facts from the Census Bureau.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Redistricting Continues in 19 States

As of last week, nineteen states are still without final districts. The redistricting process went smoothly and quickly in some states, but in others, maps are already in courts and others will be soon.

In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer led a(n initially) successful charge to oust the chairwoman of the state’s independent commission. However, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned her decision, leaving some to speculate that the governor could still have her removed at a future date. Nevertheless, once finalized, many expect Arizona's maps to be challenged in court.

Based on the 2010 Census figures, Texas gained four additional representatives in the House. However, last week a federal court rejected the legislature's newly drawn lines, claiming they did not appropriately reflect Latino populations. This is nothing new, as Texas' maps have been challenged in court every decade for the past half century.

With presidential primaries beginning in early January, time is running out for states to finalize districts ahead of 2012.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Upcoming Webinar: Making a Plan for 2012

Our final webinar of 2011 will start you thinking about next year's general election and how your nonprofit can maximize your impact with the resources you already have.

Plan Ahead: Building a Voter Engagement Timeline for 2012
Thursday December 1st, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

The 2012 presidential election will be here soon, and it's time to start thinking about your nonprofit's plan for registering, educating, and engaging voters. This webinar will cover when, where, and how to incorporate voter engagement activities into your work. We'll also help you develop and tailor a 2012 voter engagement timeline for your organization. Don't miss this opportunity to start building a voter engagement plan for 2012 now!


Monday, November 14, 2011

New Report on Turnout Gaps in 2010 Midterm

We're pleased to announce that our new voter turnout report, Voter Participation Gaps in the 2010 Midterm Election, is now available! It is the latest in our America Goes to the Polls series, and is based on the newly released biennial Census survey on voting and registration. The report tracks, analyzes, and explains income, age, education, and disability voting gaps. Prominent turnout gaps include:
  • Age - 24% of youth (ages 18-29) turned out in 2010, a sharp drop from 51.1% in 2008.
  • Household Income - There was a 20 point turnout gap between members of lower income and higher income households.
  • Educational Attainment - Only 35% of those with a high school diploma or less turned out in 2010, compared to 61% of those with a college degree or more.
  • Mobility - There was a 34 point turnout gap between individuals who had resided in their home for less than a year (28%) and those who had resided in their home for at least 5 years (62%).
  • Disability - The survey included data on voters with disabilities and found that turnout among individuals with hearing difficulty actually exceeded turnout for those with no disability by 4 points.
Download the report to learn more about voting gaps. Then visit the Resources section of our website to see how your nonprofit can help close them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Voter ID Passes in Mississippi

On Tuesday, Mississippi voters passed a constitutional amendment that requires voters to show government issued photo identification in order to vote. The initiative includes provisions for free photo IDs, but as with all photo ID laws, the impact on voters will depend on implementation. Although many of the states that passed voter ID laws this year offer free IDs, voters still face hurdles in acquiring proper ID.

Last month, a 91-year-old Tennessee woman couldn't get a photo ID because she was physically unable to stand in a long line. A South Carolina man does not have an official birth certificate (he was born at home in 1926) and was therefore denied a free state ID. It would cost $150 for him to get the underlying documents necessary to secure a "free" ID. In Wisconsin, Department of Transportation employees are not allowed to tell residents about the free photo ID for voting, unless the individual specifically asks.

However, not all states make voter ID overly burdensome. For example, in Michigan, voters who show up without photo ID can still vote a regular ballot if they sign an affidavit. State-by-state variations in voter ID laws make it impossible to determine how the amendment will affect voters in Mississippi, and if they will be able to get proper ID in time to vote.

Your nonprofit can ensure that no one misses the opportunity to vote because of ID requirements--help your clients and constituents learn more about voter ID in your state.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Voting Rights Victory in Maine

We'll have a more complete summary of 2011 election results later, but we just couldn't wait to share Maine's victory! Yesterday, Maine voters decided to restore Election Day Registration (EDR)--leaving an almost 40 year tradition unbroken. Sixty percent of voters supported EDR, and have made it possible for future voters to register and cast their ballots on Election Day.

We're pleased to celebrate this voting rights victory and want to congratulate the organizations and volunteers that were able to put the issue before voters in just a few short months.

For more on other 2011 ballot measure results, visit Ballotpedia.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Convenience Improves Turnout

At Nonprofit VOTE, we support and advocate for election systems and practices that make voting easier, more convenient, and allow a greater number of people to participate.

So we were glad to hear about a new paper by political scientists from Rice University and the University of Alabama called "Voting at Non-Precinct Polling Places: A Review and Research Agenda".

The researchers found that the convenience of Election Day voting centers--polling locations that combine multiple precincts and give voters options when deciding where to cast their ballot--can increase turnout.

Robert Stein, one of the paper's authors, said that "Over the last 3-5 years, research has revealed that implementation of voting centers has led to up to a 10 percent increase in not only voter turnout, but turnout of people who wouldn't normally vote."

Because of their size and accessibility, voting centers give voters the opportunity to vote somewhere that's more central to their daily routine, and thus increases the likelihood that they will vote. Stein suggests that voting centers work best in low-density urban areas and are most appealing to voters who are less likely to vote due to hectic schedules.

The findings of "Voting at Non-Precinct Polling Places" underscore the positive impact of voting centers, and are a helpful reminder that we can make voting more accessible to everyone through strategic election administration choices.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

November 2011 Election Resources

Many voters will be heading to the polls on Tuesday. Make sure you're prepared for Election Day and know where you're voting, what's on the ballot, and where to turn if you have questions. Remember that you may be able to cast your ballot early either in-person or by mail, depending on where you live. Remind your friends and family to vote, and remember Election Day should be fun!
Happy voting!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2011 Election Roundup

Yesterday was Election Day in Colorado, although voters in most states and municipalities will not be heading to the polls until next Tuesday, November 8. However, Colorado is not the first state to kick off election season a little early.

Gubernatorial and State Legislative Elections
Louisiana has already (re)elected Governor Bobby Jindal in a nonpartisan blanket primary on October 22, but voters will return to the polls on November 19 to elect new state legislators. Like Louisiana, Mississippi holds elections for both its governor and state legislature in odd numbered years. Kentucky voters will also elect their governor, while New Jersey and Virginia are holding state legislative elections.

Ballot Measures
Nine states have statewide ballot measures this year. Texas tops the group with a total of 10 measures. Louisiana voters already decided the outcome of five ballot measures during their October election, but will have to vote on a final constitutional amendment later this month. Yesterday, Colorado voters rejected a proposed increase to the state income and sales tax.

In Mississippi there are three controversial ballot measures dealing with abortion, voter ID, and eminent domain. And as we've mentioned before, there is a veto referendum in Maine that could restore Election Day Registration, as well as one in Ohio that could repeal SB 5--legislation signed in March that would limit collective bargaining for the state's public employees. Learn more about the 2011 ballot measures on Ballotpedia.

Mayoral Races
Many cities will be holding mayoral elections next week. Don't know if yours is one of them? Find out by visiting the U.S. Conference of Mayors' election center.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Webinar Recap

Thank you to everyone who joined last Thursday's webinar, States Move to Restrict Voting: How Nonprofits Can Protect the Right to Vote. And a special thanks to Megan Donovan and Ellis Jacobs for sharing their expertise with us.

The presentation and associated materials are now available: Watch the presentation online (with audio) or download the PowerPoint and audio file. If you have additional questions about voter suppression and voting rights, please feel free to contact our presenters:

Megan Donovan
Staff Attorney, Fair Elections Legal Network

Ellis Jacobs
Senior Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

FELN creates regular Voter Suppression Updates, which are posted on their blog along with other news and updates. We also mentioned these two reports from the Brennan Center for Justice:
  • Citizens without Proof: A Survey of Americans' Possession of Documentary Proof of Citizenship and Photo Identification
  • The Cost of Voter ID Laws: What the Courts Say, which contains a section on what states need to do to educate voters