Voter registration is the first step every citizen must take before they can participate in the democratic process.
There are many ways that this can be done. An eligible citizen with a signature on state file may go online to register to vote in most states; they may opt to register to vote at a government agency, such as the DMV; or perhaps they will complete a form with the help of a community voter registration drive at their neighborhood supermarket. The last example of voter registration is not just about getting on the voter rolls. It’s about building power in the community through voter engagement. And Project Vote works to help groups harness this power.
This summer and into the fall, we are offering trainings and webinars to groups across the nation on the best practices for conducting voter registration drives.
We have a unique understanding of the power of community as our own staff members who conduct these trainings have a background in community organizing. We believe that community groups that work to help their eligible constituents complete a voter registration application are also building relationships and engaging fellow citizens in the democratic process by:
- Reminding people of their voice: When canvassing, an organization can talk about the voting process and how voting can affect the community for the better.
- Uniting the community: Voting is more than which party a person supports. It’s about having a stake in the local policies, judges, and school boards that affect daily life.
- Finding out what motivates people to participate: Raising minimum wage or other important issues, bringing more resources to their community, and getting politicians to pay attention to the community are all reasons citizens may want to engage in the democratic process.
- Connecting new voters to other organizations and the community: Building a strong support system to keep doing work that benefits the community helps sustain power.
Voter engagement requires people to not only register to vote, but also show up on Election Day to vote an informed ballot. Ultimately, a community that is engaged in the democratic process is one that is heard.
To learn more about how to build power in your community through safe and effective voter registration drives, or if you are interested in hosting a training or webinar, contact Amy Busefink at abusefink[at]projectvote.org or go here.