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vote, and get others to vote
Voting is the bare minimum participation in a self-governed society.
It's the most valuable right we could ask for. Every day, people around
the world die fighting for their right to vote. Let your voice be heard!
Help more people to vote by helping register people to vote. Let's
vote, vote our conscience, and get others to vote too.
Register now or send URLs to your friends. These sites ask questions
and then spit out a pre-filled-out PDF form
that you can print and mail. The site will also tell you where to mail
it and the registration deadlines.
Register yourself now via BetterKnowYourVote or YourVoteMatters
Register Other People
Registering other people to vote encourages community participation.
This can lead to community participation in
other ways: discussion, volunteering, self-organizing for good causes,
advocacy, and collaborative solutions in a complex world. If you want
to register other people to vote, you'll need...
- Registration forms. Use your state's
form or the national form.
- Clipboards. People can fill forms out immediately
if you bring clipboards. If they say they'll fill it out at home
and mail it, they are 90% likely to be mistaken! Get
them to fill it in and sign it right then.
- Cheap pens. Bring lots of cheap pens and possibly
a cup to store them and to make them look accessible.
- Rubber bands. Rubber bands will secure forms
and other objects in the wind.
- Good proactive attitude. You have to proactively
ask people politely but firmly, "Are you registered to vote?".
Don't wait for people to see you or talk to you. I've talked to many
people who do voter registration and they say that a loud but polite
voice when looking someone in the eye makes all the difference.
- Ironing board (optional). Setting up an ironing
board can create the perception of a strong presence. Attach a large
paper sign with duct tape saying something like "Register to
Vote Here!". Some organizations (stores, etc.) may want you
to ask permission before setting up somewhere. If you are
consistently respectful and non-partisan, most places are very friendly
about voter registration.
In most states, you can waltz into a post office and
pick up voter registration forms. If you want forms in bulk, the
process is different for each state. If in doubt, contact the local
political party that you support and ask them how to get voter registration
forms for your voter registration project.
Or, use the National
Voter Registration Form. You can register to vote in any state
in the U.S. except for Wyoming and New Hampshire.
Print the form,
which is in PDF format,
add a stamp, and then mail it. You can mail multiple forms to one
state in one envelope with the appropriate postage. The actual form
is only 2 pages long, but the PDF has 30 pages with instructions
and state-specific details. Here are frequently
asked questions about the national form.
Some state forms have advantages over the national form. First
of all, you can get them easily free at the post office. Secondly,
some states (California, for instance) have a checkbox to always
send an absentee ballot so you can vote from home. Absentee ballots
statistically increase actual voting because many people
are busy, or they forget to vote, or they have a family
or work crisis on election day.
So, if you are registering mainly local people, just pick up a stack
of state forms at your local USPS post office instead of using the
national form. The national registration form is perfect for large
events or conventions that draw tourists or other out-of-state folks.
There are legal implications of voter registration that you should
know about. At the minimum, carefully read the rules on each voter
registration form. For instance, you may need to sign somewhere that
says that you helped fill out the form and that you will submit it
to the appropriate places within a certain number of days.
You are also bound by other laws, for instance that you can't throw
away or alter someone's registration form, and that you have to submit
it or register people even if they hold different beliefs than you
do. We're not lawyers, so research this on your own or contact voter
registration organizations (see below) for more
Voter registration deadlines vary by state. For instance, Californians
must register 15 days before elections. You can also check voter
registration deadlines for other states.
Where To Register Others
Register where people gather. Concerts, malls,
Walmart, conventions, music festivals, flea markets, supermarkets,
conferences, parties, and other social events.
Register people stuck in lines. Movies,
ticket windows, concerts. For the next few months, keep an eye out
for where people are stuck in lines. Start at the front of the line
and work back, not vice versa.
Register your own "community". Integrate
voter registration into your social group, non-profit organization,
or church. Although you cannot support or oppose a candidate
or party when involved with a church, you can do non-partisan voter
registration. Talk to your organization for details
about how you can make it happen. Here's more information about church
Register your friends and family. You can be an
effective advocate for voting and voter registration without telling
friends and family how to vote. Get
the word out and create more voter registration enthusiasts. Feel free
to forward the URL to this Web page that you are reading.
Be Loud About Voter Registration
Be creative and get the word out among your friends and family. Can
you get some visibility among your friends, at your job, in your social
group, or some other organization about the importance of voter registration
and voting? Perhaps forward the URL to the voter registration
Web page that you are reading right now.
Support Voter Registration Organizations
Volunteer with or donate money to organizations that register voters.
Many organizations that do this are non-partisan and some are non-profits.
Of course, some have a political end-goal of a party or candidate,
and you can get involved with those too. If in doubt about how best
to support a candidate or party, contact that local political party
or candidate office and ask them how you can help. They will be more
than happy to tell you how to get involved in voter registration projects
related to their mission. Some non-partisan non-profit organizations
that register voters and encourage voting...
This site, Particip8.org, is non-partisan, so I'm not going to list
any of the many organizations that are strongly biased towards or against
a party. But if you want to support such organizations, they are easy
to find. Just search online for
your political party and your city name, and you will find what you
want. For instance, if you lived in San Francisco and wanted to help
the XYZ political party, go to Google and
type the phrase...
"XYZ party" "San Francisco"
Call them on the phone and ask how you can help do voter registration
You can also research "advocacy organizations" that support
or oppose specific policies, legislation, or candidates. Many advocacy
organizations have targeted voter registration drives and can tell
you how you to support their mission. Ask your friends about political
and advocacy organizations that they support.
Ask organizations that you support about how to help voter registration
in "swing states" or "battleground states", which
are U.S. states that are particularly important in the upcoming Presidential
race. However, any voter registration in any state is a good thing.