Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Materials from Voter Participation Basics Webinar

Last week's webinar, Nonpartisan Voter Participation Basics for Nonprofits, is now available!

If you have questions for our featured presenter, Ashley Herad, the Civic Engagement and Public Policy Director for the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, you can contact her directly at ashley AT lano DOT org.

You can watch the presentation on YouTube, and if you subscribe to our channel, you'll be notified whenever new content is posted. You can also download the PowerPoint presentation and the audio portion of the presentation, or learn more about voting in your state.

Registration is now open for our April webinar, Being Nonpartisan: 501(c)(3) Guidelines for Voter Engagement Work. RSVP today!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Who Better than Nonprofits?

Earlier this month, Susan Dreyfus, the president and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families--one of Nonprofit VOTE's national partners--blogged about the importance of voter engagement in the nonprofit community.

With November speeding toward us, she urged the sector to consider how it will help ensure that all Americans can exercise their right to vote. Dreyfus asked:
  • Will this sector provide opportunities for folks to register to vote?
  • Will we provide information on how to vote? 
  • Will we offer opportunities to learn about the issues and consider the positions of the various candidates?
For Nonprofit VOTE and for the Alliance, the answer is yes. What about your organization? Whether your nonprofit serves 10 families, houses 200 residents, or feeds 5,000 people, you can improve the lives of your clients and constituents by encouraging them to be active in the democratic process.

Our role is not to influence how people vote, but simply to ensure that they do. "Who better than the nonprofit human services sector to embrace participation in the democratic process as a part of how we achieve our missions?"

Up for the challenge? Voterize your nonprofit and get started today!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Community Health Vote 2012

This week, one of our partners, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is launching Community Health Vote 2012--a national nonpartisan voter engagement campaign to establish voter engagement as an ongoing effort at as many health centers as possible.

Marc Wetherhorn, NACHC’s National Advocacy Director, blogged: "Health centers are in a unique position to help our communities be more civically engaged because the very nature of health centers makes them an integral part of how low income Americans are involved in their communities and society."

Like other nonprofits, many health centers have been doing voter engagement for years, seeing it as an extension of their mission. This year, NACHC is urging all health centers to participate because "Every health center has the power to dramatically increase voter participation in its district."

To help health centers get started, NACHC has crafted a Health Center Voter Engagement Tool Kit. Learn more about Community Health Vote and read the full blog post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Partner Spotlight: The Arc

We're pleased to introduce our newest 2012 national partner, The Arc! The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. As a leader in disability rights, The Arc boasts more than 140,000 members and more than 700 state and local chapters.

The Arc's mission is to ensure that every individual and family living with an intellectual or developmental disability in the U.S. has access to the information, advocacy and skills they need to participate as active citizens of our democracy and active members of their community. One of the ways The Arc does this is by encouraging voter participation. They are hosting a Disability Policy Seminar next month, which will include a session on best practices in voter engagement, featuring Nonprofit VOTE's George Pillsbury, as well as leaders from national disability organizations.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Register for Nonprofit Voter Participation Basics

There's still time to register for this weeks' webinar!

Nonpartisan Voter Participation Basics for Nonprofits
Thursday March 22nd, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

Join us for an introduction to nonprofit voter engagement work! We'll cover the basics--like voter registration, voter education, candidate engagement, and get-out-the-vote efforts--and explain how to stay nonpartisan. The discussion will focus on ways maximize your impact while integrating outreach into services you already provide. Make sure your nonprofit is ready for the 2012 elections!

Featured Presenter: Ashley Herad is the Civic Engagement and Policy Director for the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

RSVP Now!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Get Started with Voter Engagement!

With Super Tuesday behind us, there's really no reason to delay in getting started with voter engagement! To help you kick things off, we've simplified our "Get Started" page to give you a few select options for learning more about talking to your clients and constituents about this year's elections.

We've also created a new two-page checklist for nonprofits interested in getting started with voter engagement. It covers the basics for what to consider when making a plan for the first time, as well as the benefits and importance to your overall mission.

No matter what you decide to do, just remember that the key to nonprofit voter engagement is integrating it into your mission and activities you already do! Whether you get the word out by hanging a poster in your lobby or host a candidate forum, your nonprofit is empowering your clients to become active participants in the democratic process.

So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Luck o' the Vote!

The first official celebration of St. Patrick's Day in the U.S. occurred in Morristown, New Jersey in 1780 and was authorized by George Washington.

Today it's often celebrated with parades, green clothing, and parties. But before you get your green on tomorrow, use today to think about "The Luck of the Vote" and its benefits. 

Did you know that voting is tied to a host of positive civic, health, and social outcomes? Voters are more likely to volunteer, contact their elected officials, stay informed about local affairs, and contribute to their neighborhood's "social capital". But who votes (and who doesn't) isn't a matter of luck.

Voting isn't an accident, and it doesn't happen by chance. A voter is made when someone offers them the chance to register. A voter turns out because someone reminded or encouraged them to participate on Election Day. When nonprofits talk to their clients about voting, they are not only more likely to vote, but they are also more likely to talk to their friends and family about voting.

Know what else isn't based on luck? Candidate appearances and attention. Candidates spend time and money in areas where turnout is higher and where residents are engaged.

So even though voting might make you feel lucky, you don't actually have to be lucky to reap the benefits! Your nonprofit can positively impact the lives of your clients and constituents simply by encouraging voter participation. Get started today so that your community can bask in "The Luck of the Vote" this November.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

N.C. Hosts Nonprofit Voter Registration Month

With March Madness gripping the nation, you might not have heard that in North Carolina March is also Nonprofit Voter Registration Month!

Democracy North Carolina, one of our state partners, is working on a 2012 Nonprofit Voter Engagement Project to encourage and support nonprofits conducting voter outreach.

Although this can take many forms--like distributing nonpartisan educational materials or mobilizing clients, staff, and volunteers to vote--this month's focus is voter registration. With a May 8th state primary (which features an amendment on same-sex marriage) coming up now is the perfect time for N.C. nonprofits to register their clients and constituents to vote. 

Democracy North Carolina can provide training, voter education materials, up-to-date information on election laws, partner with you to mobilize voters, and brainstorm and strategize with you about how to tailor a voter engagement plan to fit your organization. Don't wait! Contact Isela GutiƩrrez at isela AT democracy-nc DOT org for more information.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Partner Spotlight: NASS

Since 2010, Nonprofit VOTE has been an official voter participation partner of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). NASS is the nation's oldest nonpartisan professional organization for public officials and serves as a medium for the exchange of information between states and fosters cooperation in the development of public policy--including elections and voting initiatives. In the past we've worked with NASS to help them maintain their Can I Vote? website. Learn more about your state elections officials and voting in your state!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Forward with Voter Engagement!

Setting the clock ahead this weekend probably got you thinking about other spring activities--like spring cleaning, spring break, and warmer weather. Before you completely fill up your spring to-do list, make sure to add a bullet for voter engagement! It's a great way to move your nonprofit and your mission forward.

As Robin Williams noted, "Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'" And what better way to party than by talking to your clients and constituents about voting in the 2012 elections?! Let's get to it!

Learn more about getting started with voter engagement!

Friday, March 9, 2012

March Webinar: Nonprofit Voter Participation Basics

Thinking about getting started with voter engagement? Register now for our March 2012 webinar:

Nonpartisan Voter Participation Basics for Nonprofits
Thursday March 22nd, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

Join us for an introduction to nonprofit voter engagement work! We'll cover the basics--like voter registration, voter education, candidate engagement, and get-out-the-vote efforts--and explain how to stay nonpartisan. The discussion will focus on ways maximize your impact while integrating outreach into services you already provide. Register today to make sure your nonprofit is ready for the 2012 election!

Featured Presenter: Ashley Herad is the Civic Engagement and Policy Director for the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

RSVP Now!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ex-Offender Turnout In Iowa

A recent study examines the effects of a 2005 Executive Order in Iowa that automatically restored voting rights to former felons who had completed their sentence. Before 2005, persons with felony convictions had to apply to the Governor to have their voting rights restored. Since the Executive Order was enacted, an estimated 100,000 Iowa ex-felons have had their voting rights restored.

Moreover, the analysis found that voter turnout among persons with felony convictions increased substantially following the policy change and that notification of voting rights restoration increased voter turnout among the released prisoner population by four to eight percentage points in the 2008 presidential election.

Unfortunately, in January 2011, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad issued his own Executive Order that rescinded the 2005 advancement, once again requiring ex-offenders to petition the Governor individually to have their voting rights restored. The study's authors predict that this will inhibit turnout, noting that many persons with felony convictions would vote but are discouraged because of the "burdensome application process."

This is particularly unfortunate because, in Iowa, African-Americans account for almost 25% of the prison population, although they make up only 2.8% of the state's population. This can severely impact both the civic and economic health of the community, as well as the correctional system. Research has shown that restoring voting rights to ex-offenders can reduce the recidivism rates of released prisoners.

What are the voting rights of felons in your state? Find out on our website and check out our felon disenfranchisement factsheet in English and Spanish.

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