Thursday, January 31, 2013

Webinar: Getting Started with Voter Engagement

Voters won't be selecting the next president this year, but they will be electing state and local government leaders. Don't sit out during these important elections!

Get Started with Nonprofit Voter Engagement
Thursday February 21st, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

Looking for an introduction to nonpartisan voter engagement for nonprofits? Join us for an overview of nonpartisan dos and don'ts, as well as effective tactics for voter registration, voter education, ballot measure advocacy, candidate engagement, and get-out-the-vote efforts. We'll focus on ways to help you integrate outreach into services you already provide. Register today!

Featured Presenter: Isela GutiƩrrez-Gunter is currently a consultant with Nonprofit VOTE and previously led the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Project at Democracy North Carolina. Her prior work experience includes advocacy around statewide juvenile justice reform in Texas and local drug policy reform in Seattle, WA. She has a BA in History from Scripps College and a MSW with an emphasis on Community, Management, and Policy Practice from UNC-Chapel Hill.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2012 Ballot Measures: Elections

November 6, 2012 was the first presidential election since the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court in 2010. Consequentially, the 2012 election was more expensive than any other election in our history by more than $700 million.

In an apparent reaction to the ruling, some states voted on limiting or eliminating corporate contributions to elections. Voters in Montana and Colorado approved laws that would prohibit or eliminate corporate contributions and expenditures in both state and national elections. They also sought to charge state lawmakers with asking congressional delegates to overrule Citizens United by amending the U.S. Constitution.

Amendment 2 in Minnesota was an extremely important measure for the future of the state's elections. Amendment 2 would have imposed a strict photo ID requirement at the polls, and although support for the amendment was strong over the summer, it ultimately failed by a few points. This show of support for voters' rights at the polls followed on the heels of Maine voters restoring Election Day Registration in November 2011 after the legislature eliminated it earlier that summer. It seems that given the chance, voters are willing to make changes to election policy and ensure access to the polls.

This post was written by Nonprofit VOTE Intern Lauren Dobbs. Lauren graduated from Boston University with a BA in International Relations in 2011 and will be attending graduate school next fall to obtain an MSc in Development Studies.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Elections on the Horizon

Although there is no presidential election, voters will still make critical decisions about state and local government leaders in 2013. There will be gubernatorial and state legislative elections in both New Jersey and Virginia on November 5th after June primaries.

Throughout the year voters in various cities will decide mayoral elections. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has yet to post a full list of 2013 contests, but you can browse a list of major cities holding elections this year, including Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

While local elections may not receive the funding or attention of national contests, the outcome will nevertheless impact local revenue, spending, and policy decisions. Your organization can have a tremendous influence on these local elections--browse our voter engagement resources for ideas.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Election Highlights from 2012

The 2012 election is over, but there's plenty to learn from the results. Early voting was popular, particularly in battleground states: 69% of votes in Nevada were cast early along with 53% in Florida, 72% in Colorado, and 42% in Iowa. Many voters are taking advantage of early voting opportunities and the flexibility it affords in deciding when and how to vote. These changes are causing nonprofits, communities, and campaigns to rethink the ways they approach Election Day.

Minority voters cast a record 28% of the votes, up from 26% in 2008. For the first time ever, black voters may have voted at a higher rate than white voters. While this is not yet confirmed, the rise in black turnout has been driven by increases in voter participation, not by demographic shifts, as is often the case with other minority groups. According to Pew Hispanic Center projections, Latinos will account for 40% of the growth in the eligible electorate between now and 2030, at which time 40 million Latinos will be eligible to vote--up from 23.7 million now.

Although lagging in overall numbers, youth participation is becoming a critical factor in deciding elections. 46 million youth were eligible to vote in the November 2012 election, including 16.8 million who became eligible since 2008.

Additional turnout information will be available later this year in the next installment of our America Goes to the Polls series and in the Census Current Population Survey: Voting and Registration Supplement.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Long Lines Discouraged 49,000 Voters in Central FL

After the November election, we reported on long lines in a number of states. Now, a new report suggests that as many as 49,000 people in Central Florida did not cast a ballot because of extended waiting times.

Theodore Allen has been analyzing the impact of long lines at the polls since 2004. His analysis of Central Florida's 2012 results compared precinct closing times, Election Day turnout, and results in the presidential race for all Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole county precincts.

His review indicated that for every additional hour that a precinct stayed open past 7 pm--an indicator of line length throughout the day--turnout dropped by as much as 4.8%. Allen suggests that longer ballots (six pages in Orange County) likely caused longer lines which in turn suppressed turnout. Additionally, fewer early voting days probably contributed to longer wait times on Election Day. Many Central Florida voters waited in line for three or more hours after the polls officially closed.

Whatever the contributing factors, voters simply cannot be expected to set aside hours to cast a ballot. We need to focus on ways to improve access to the ballot, and can start by expanding early and absentee voting opportunities. Additional voter education can also help reduce the amount of time voters spend filling out their ballot. Let's kick 2013 off right and resolve to eliminate long lines at the polls.