Monday, December 30, 2013

Thank You for an Incredible 2013!

Before 2013 comes to a close, we want to a take a brief moment to thank our partners, our supporters, and nonprofits across the country for supporting voting.

2013 was an exciting year for Nonprofit VOTE:
There will be plenty for nonprofits to do in 2014. In case you want to get a jump on things, you can register now for our January 23rd webinar on making a voter engagement plan.

Thank you for everything and Happy New Year from Nonprofit VOTE!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The State of Felon Disenfranchisement in 2013

Earlier this year, the Sentencing Project gave an update on felon disenfranchisement in the United States. Currently, 5.85 million Americans are prohibited from voting due to laws that disenfranchise citizens convicted of felony offenses. Only two states--Maine and Vermont--do not restrict the voting rights of anyone with a felony conviction, even while in prison.

However, incarcerated individuals represent a minority of the total disenfranchised population. In fact, 75% of disenfranchised voters live in their communities, either under probation or parole supervision or having completed their sentence. An estimated 2.6 million people are disenfranchised in states that restrict voting rights even after completion of sentence.

Public opinion surveys report that 8 in 10 U.S. residents support voting rights for citizens who have completed their sentence, and nearly two-thirds support voting rights for those on probation or parole. Since 1997, 23 states have modified laws to expand voter eligibility for ex-offenders and as a result an estimated 800,000 citizens regained the right to vote from 1997 to 2010.

Even in states where the voting rights of ex-offenders are restored, myths about ineligibility are often rampant. Know the law in your state and ensure that your organization is sharing current and accurate information with your community.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Interactive Map from the Census Bureau

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released Census Explorer, a new interactive map that gives users easier access to neighborhood-level statistics.

The map uses the most current statistics, updated from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Topics currently available in Census Explorer include:
  • Total population,
  • Percent 65 and older,
  • Foreign-born population percentage,
  • Percent of the population with a high school degree or higher,
  • Percent with a bachelor's degree or higher,
  • Labor force participation rate,
  • Home ownership rate, and
  • Median household income.
In addition to these characteristics, more than 40 American Community Survey social, economic and housing topics are now available through the Census Bureau's data tool, American Factfinder. This includes the first release of local statistics for disability, marital history, VA service-connected disability, health insurance coverage, and year of naturalization. Don't wait, start exploring!

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Project Vote Policy Paper: Early Voting

Project Vote's map of early and absentee voting, 2013.
Last month, Project Vote released their latest policy paper, this one on Early Voting. Although voting has traditionally taken place on a single Election Day, in recent years many states have expanded opportunities to vote before Election Day--generally to accommodate voter schedules and in the hopes of increasing turnout. 

Early voting allows voters to cast their ballots in person but at alternative times and locations, in addition to on Election Day at their traditional polling place. It is now in use in 30 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Some states also offer no-excuse absentee voting, allowing voters to fill out and mail or deliver a ballot before Election Day--without having to provide a reason for voting absentee.

In the 2012 election, early voting and absentee voting together accounted for 30% or more of all votes cast in 21 of the states. In Florida, about 50% of ballots were cast early.

Read the policy paper for more information.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What We Learned in 2013

As 2013 ends, it's the perfect time to reflect on what we learned this year.

This summer, Nonprofit VOTE released a two-part report, Can Nonprofits Increase Voting Among Their Clients, Constituents, and Staff? An Evaluation of the Track the Vote Program. While Part I of the report showcases the impact of nonprofit voter engagement on turnout in 2012, Part II tells the story of the nonprofits that talked to their communities about voting. By tracking the contacts nonprofits made with voters, we found:
  • Nonprofits were particularly effective at increasing voter turnout among groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the electoral process. Voter turnout of nonprofit voters compared to all registered voters was: 18 points higher for Latino voters, 15 points higher for voters under the age of 30, and 15 points higher for voters with household incomes under $25,000. 
  • Disparities in voter turnout by age, income, race, and ethnicity narrowed or disappeared among voters engaged by the nonprofits compared to the large turnout gaps evident among registered voters. 
  • The most successful nonprofits made their voter engagement plans early, giving them time to pilot their programs and make adjustments. 
  • Staffing is a key consideration. This means not only having a staff lead organizing and planning activities, but also ensuring there is adequate staffing--provided internally or by a partner--to carry out the efforts. 
In addition to our findings, other organizations also reported on new voting insights:
  • Turnout in states with Election Day Registration was 12.5 points higher than in states without it. Election Day Registration accounted for approximately 1 in 8 ballots cast on November 6, 2012 in the eight states (and DC) that allowed it at the time. 
  • For young people without college experience, the existence of a photo ID law in their state predicted lower turnout in 2012. However, the same report found that same-day registration improved overall youth turnout. 
  • Turnout among voters with disabilities was strong, despite difficulties. 30.1 percent of voters with disabilities reported difficulty in voting at a polling place, compared to 8.4% of voters without disabilities. Nevertheless, 15.6 million people with disabilities reported voting in the November 2012 elections, turning out at a rate 5.7 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities. 
  • 75 percent of disenfranchised voters live in their communities, either under probation or parole supervision or having completed their sentence. 5.85 million Americans are prohibited from voting due to laws that disenfranchise citizens convicted of felony offenses. However, since 1997, 23 states have modified felony disenfranchisement provisions to expand voter eligibility. As a result, from 1997 to 2010 an estimated 800,000 citizens have regained the right to vote.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

January Webinar: Making a Plan for 2014

Midterm elections are next year and 35 Senate seats will be up for election along with all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. At least 21 states will have state-wide ballot measures. Join our January webinar to ensure your nonprofit is prepared:

Plan Ahead 2014: Build a Voter Engagement Timeline for Your Nonprofit 
Thursday January 23rd at 2:00pm Eastern

The 2014 midterm elections will be here soon, and it's time to start thinking about your nonprofit's plan for registering, educating, and engaging voters. In this webinar we'll discuss when, where, and how to incorporate voter engagement activities into your work. We'll also help you develop and tailor a 2014 voter engagement timeline for your organization.

Featured Presenters: Lindsey Hodel is Nonprofit VOTE's National Field Director and has more than a decade of experience in public policy advocacy, community organizing, and nonprofit civic engagement efforts in the West and nationally. She also founded the Colorado Participation Project, a roundtable of direct service nonprofits engaged in client engagement programs. Julian Johannesen is Director of Research and Training at Nonprofit VOTE where he's worked on a variety of projects including the development and delivery of training to 501(c)(3) nonprofits interested in nonpartisan voter engagement work.