Monday, April 29, 2013

May 16th Webinar: Voter Registration Modernization

In every state except North Dakota, voters must be registered before they can cast a ballot. Join us for a discussion about ways to update voter registration systems that make it easier for election offices to maintain lists and for voters to keep their information up to date:

Voter Registration Modernization
Thursday May 16th, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

Over the last few years, a number of states have enacted laws and policies to update their voter registration systems--including innovations like online registration, Election Day Registration, and portable registration. This move toward voter registration modernization, supported by both voters and elections officials, has gained momentum and a number of states have already proposed new legislation in 2013. Join us for a review of voter registration updates and other important voter registration reforms. 

Featured Presenter: Myrna Pérez, Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice. Ms. Pérez works on a variety of voting rights related issues, including redistricting, voter registration list maintenance, and access to the ballot box. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Ms. Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman & Dane, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. Ms. Pérez graduated from Columbia Law School in 2003, where she was a Lowenstein Public Interest Fellow. Following law school, Ms. Pérez clerked for the Honorable Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Expanding Access to Voting in 2013

See an enlarged map at:
The Brennan Center has been tracking and analyzing the efforts of states to increase registration opportunities, expand early voting, and modernize election systems.

They reviewed the nearly 200 bills to expand voting access that were introduced in 45 states in 2013. Most have failed while a few have passed--like those in New Mexico to automate voter registration at DMV offices, in Oklahoma to make existing photo ID laws less restrictive, and in Virginia to allow online voter registration. 

41 bills in 21 states are currently active, meaning there has been some form of activity, such as a hearing or vote, including:
  • Colorado: Last week the state House passed the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, which would allow Election Day registration, create portable registration, and establish a modernized elections commission. 
  • Nevada: A legislative committee passed SB 375, which would digitize voter registration at state agencies, expand online registration, and permit pre-registration by 16 and 17-year-olds. 
  • Florida: The state House voted 118-1 to reinstate the early voting days that had been eliminated before the 2012 election. The bill is currently under consideration in the Senate. 
Perhaps most importantly, the Brennan Center notes that many of these bills are drawing bipartisan support: In Colorado, Democrats in the legislature worked with the mostly-Republican Colorado County Clerks Association to draft a modernization bill; Republicans introduced an online registration bill in Pennsylvania and passed it in Virginia, and; New Mexico's new law received broad bipartisan support and was signed by a Republican governor.

Through these and other election reforms we can help ensure that all eligible Americans can register and cast a ballot. Learn more about expanding access to voting in our next webinar on Voter Registration Modernization on May 16th.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Webinar Materials on Voter Turnout in 2012

Last week's webinar, Voter Turnout in the 2012 Election, is now available. Based on information from America Goes to the Polls 2012, the webinar covered voting trends among populations served by nonprofits, state-by-state turnout rankings, and factors affecting turnout--such as Electon Day Registration and swing state status.

Watch the presentation on YouTube. 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 browse all of our resources on voter turnout.

Register now for our May webinar on Voter Registration Modernization, and be sure to check our 2013 webinar schedule for upcoming trainings.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Youth Turnout: An Essay by Peter Levine

Most people expected youth turnout to decline in 2012. Signs of diminished enthusiasm were hard to miss. For instance, the Pew Research Center reported that just 28% of young people were following the election closely, down from 40% at the same point four years ago.

My organization, CIRCLE, asked a random sample of young Americans whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney was a "typical politician." The largest group, 36%, said "both." Another 19% chose President Obama alone. That means that an outright majority of young people saw the President as a typical politician, not as an inspirational leader, as they might have said in 2008.

But young people (18-29) actually turned out at almost exactly the same rate this year as they had in 2008: 50%. They preferred Barack Obama by a lopsided 23-point margin and were numerous enough to determine the outcome of the campaign. If Governor Romney had drawn half of the youth vote in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, he would have won their 80 electoral votes and would now be president.

Since young people voted at the same rate in 2012 despite showing less enthusiasm than four years ago, I think we can conclude that they weren't moved by excitement or hope as much as by commitment and persistence. That is good news because we should want young people of all backgrounds and ideologies to participate in civic life, by voting and also by serving in their communities, following the news, discussing issues, and informing themselves. Civic participation is a habit formed during youth, so the future of our democracy depends on engaging young people today. From that perspective, the increase in youth turnout is heartening, and it's good news that young people have amassed political power by voting–that means that the parties, interest groups, and the news media will compete to engage, persuade, and educate young people.

 But fifty percent turnout is still not impressive. The United States routinely posts the lowest voter turnout rates of any true democracy in the world, and young Americans lag 15 points or more behind older Americans in voting. Also, the "new normal" of massive youth voting is in some ways just a return to the "old normal." In seven of the 10 elections since 1976, youth turnout has been just about 50%. One way to read the trend is to say that youth turnout is stuck at about half of eligible young citizens.

Equally stubborn are disparities in voting by social class. Whereas young people with some college experience voted at a rate of about 63% this November, the turnout of non-college-educated young people was just 36%. Those non-voters were diverse ideologically and included a substantial proportion who liked Mitt Romney better than Barack Obama. But they failed to vote for any candidate.

The whole infrastructure of churches, grassroots political parties, local newspapers, and unions that once introduced working-class young people to politics is now shattered. And the sophisticated turnout operations of modern presidential campaigns focus on likely voters, meaning that college campuses get lots of attention but no one reaches young people who work in retail, service industries, and manufacturing. The hyper-efficient Obama campaign contacted just 5.8% of youth without college experience.

Young voters are back. They turn out in good years and bad and make the difference in close elections. But half of our young people are still non-voters, and their detachment from politics reflects their general alienation from civic life. We can't be satisfied until we reengage them.

Peter Levine is Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs and Director of CIRCLE: the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.

Monday, April 15, 2013

This Thursday: Voter Turnout in the 2012 Election

There's still time to register for Thursday's webinar on the 2012 election:

Voter Turnout in the 2012 Election
Thursday April 18th, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

With elections now certified in all 50 states, Nonprofit VOTE has released America Goes to the Polls 2012, the latest in a series of reports on national turnout and voting trends. In this webinar we will share some of the report's most interesting findings, including state-by-state voter turnout rankings and factors affecting turnout, such as Election Day Registration and swing state status. We will also examine key voting trends among populations served by nonprofits, as well as proposals to expand voter registration and the opportunity to vote.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Did Your State Do? 2012 State Turnout Rankings

In 2012, 58.7% of voting eligible citizens across the country turned out to vote in the presidential election. Turnout ranged from a high of 76.1% in Minnesota to a low of 44.5% in Hawaii. In total, 130.3 million voters cast ballots in 2012, about 2.3 million less than in 2008.

Minnesota was first in voter turnout in 2012, while Maine (the 2010 title holder) fell to 6th place. Minnesota has led the country in voter turnout in eight of the last nine midterm and presidential elections.

Five of the ten states with the highest turnout in 2012 have some form of Election Day Registration which allows voters to register or update their information on Election Day before casting a ballot: Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

Five of the ten states with the highest turnout in 2012 were swing states--Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin--where parties and interest groups invested extensive time and resources in media and mobilization.

In contrast, five of the lowest turnout states have more burdensome registration requirements and are considered solidly Democratic or Republican--Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Of those five states, none had a margin of victory in the presidential race of less than 16 points, and Oklahoma had a spread of 34 points.

Where does your state fall in the rankings? 

Download America Goes to the Polls 2012 for more information on turnout and voting trends in the 2012 election.

Source: U.S. Elections Project. The table on the left ranks states by total ballots cast as a percent of eligible voters in the 2012 general election. 2008 turnout rank is in parentheses.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Voting Trends: Online Registration

In 2008 only two states allowed voters to register online. By the 2012 election 13 states had online registration systems up and running. Currently, at least 14 additional states are considering legislation that would allow online registration.

Online registration helps boost registration rates among young voters. Since Arizona pioneered online registration in 2002, the registration rate for 18-24 year olds has risen from 28% to 53%. Today, over 70% of Arizona's registrations are submitted online. In 2012, five states rolled out online voter registration statewide for the first time:
Not only is online registration convenient for voters, but it also benefits election officials. In Arizona, the costs associated with an online registration are just $0.03 compared to $0.83 for a paper registration. Online registration also reduces data entry errors and can lead to more accurate voter rolls, streamlining the Election Day experience for both voters and election officials.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 18 Webinar: Voter Turnout in the 2012 Election

Looking for interesting facts about the 2012 election and turnout? Join our next webinar:

Voter Turnout in the 2012 Election
Thursday April 18th, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

With elections now certified in all 50 states, Nonprofit VOTE has released America Goes to the Polls 2012, the latest in a series of reports on national turnout and voting trends. In this webinar we will share some of the report's most interesting findings, including state-by-state voter turnout rankings and factors affecting turnout, such as Election Day Registration and swing state status. We will also examine key voting trends among populations served by nonprofits, as well as proposals to expand voter registration and the opportunity to vote.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Girls Inc. She Votes 2012: Future voters, future leaders

A partner of Nonprofit VOTE, Girls Inc. is a national affiliate-based organization "inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold."

In 2012, 56 local Girls Inc. affiliates around the country participated in She Votes, enabling 4,424 girls to cast ballots in a mock election. Through She Votes, girls get hands-on experience with voting, and learn about voter registration, the importance of women in politics, who represents them at various levels of office, and how to run campaigns. In addition to the mock election, many affiliates hosted speakers and developed additional programming:
  • In Sarasota, FL, girls ran for Mayor, Vice Mayor, Historian, Secretary, and Treasurer, complete with speeches. In order to strengthen girls' understanding of office, these newly elected officials will serve one-year terms and then face reelection. For this project, Girls Inc. of Sarasota partnered with the local county supervisor of elections and a local judge, who swore the girls into office. 
  •  Girls Inc. of Kingsport, TN had two girls "stand-in" as candidates for a presidential debate, fielding questions from girls in the audience. 
  • U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan (D-NH) also spoke to Girls Inc. affiliates last fall, along with an array of county clerks, mayors, and other officials and candidates. 
  • Girls Inc. of Southwestern Connecticut met the mayor and toured City Hall. 
In 2012, Girls Inc. also added a parent outreach component to She Votes. Staff created a "take-home card" that informs parents about the program and has a space for girls to track their age during each election until they finally turn 18 and are eligible to vote in a real election. The take-home card also reminds parents to be good civic role models by voting themselves and taking their daughter with them to the polls.

Read the report about Girls Inc. She Votes 2012 to learn more. 

Girls Inc. She Votes is a nonpartisan educational initiative that gives girls the skills and confidence to envision themselves as both future voters and future candidates. Started in 2004, this biennial project helps girls understand the American political system and prepares them for a life as engaged citizens.