Voter registration drives make attorney Brian Mellor very nervous.
As general counsel for Project Vote, it’s Brian’s job to be nervous. “Over the past 12 years, I’ve worked with drives at every level of operation, from running a single office, to providing legal counsel for a national drive collecting a million applications,” he explains. “I’ve seen every possible thing that can go wrong, and I’ve seen every kind of legal and PR attack levied at groups that did nothing wrong.”
“We know how to do this right, and we know how to help groups protect themselves.”
Voter registration drives are essential to the democratic process, Mellor says, but this important work has become harder in recent years. “Groups need to be prepared when they decide to launch a drive,” says Brian. “Voter registration has always been a battle, but it’s gotten crazy over the last decade. We’ve seen partisan smear campaigns against VR drives like never before, and that hysteria has led to the passage of laws designed to make collecting applications as tricky and risky as possible.”
That’s why Brian flies all over the country, providing in-depth technical assistance trainings to organizations—from local community and religious groups to national coalitions—that are running voter registration drives. Brian’s presentations cover pretty much everything a group needs to know to run a safe, effective, efficient program: legal and organizational risks; VR rules and regulations; managing relationships with election officials; best practices for staffing, collection, and quality control systems; and crisis management.
“We know how to do this right, and we know how to help groups protect themselves,” Brian explains. “These trainings give me an opportunity to pass on some of the experiences, lessons, and best practices that Project Vote has learned over the years. They also give me an opportunity to work with all kinds of programs, run by groups with different resources and goals, to figure out how to adjust procedures to fit.”
“Project Vote has been an invaluable partner who we connected to just in time.”
Samantha De La Fuente,
Mi Famila Vota
One of those groups is Mi Familia Vota, one of the premiere Latino civic engagement organizations in the country. Mi Familia Vota has launched a drive to collect 80,000–100,000 voter registration applications from Latino citizens in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Texas in 2016.
“Project Vote has been an invaluable partner who we connected to just in time,” says Samantha De La Fuente, National Research and Data Manager for Mi Famila. “Our organization has been streamlining and advancing our quality control protocols with Project Vote’s guidance. In December 2015, Project Vote attended our annual debrief, to help teach our team the importance of building relationships with election officials and maintaining rigorous quality control procedures.”
“Overall, Project Vote provided the expertise that complimented our grassroots staff knowledge, and we are looking forward to a new year of partnership,” De La Fuente says.
For more information on Mi Familia Vota, or to support their efforts to turn out the Latino vote in 2016, go to www.mifamiliavota.org.