Example #1: Registering College Students as Voters in New York City
This example is an edited version of a press release from The City University of New York. We thank CUNY officials for allowing its use here.
CUNY Mounts Massive Voter Registration Drive for 1996
The City University of New York has mounted a massive non-partisan voter registration initiative this fall that includes a University-wide promotional campaign supported by Barnes and Noble, the distribution of voter registration forms to more than 200 ,000 current students, and making the forms available both on-line and to all applicants.
"CUNY places a high priority on citizen participation in the voting process," Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds said. She urged students at the University's 21 campuses to register by the October 11 deadline in order to be able to vote in the November elections.
Through Barnes and Noble, four nationally acclaimed authors--Amy Tan, Bill Moyers , Alice Walker, and Anne Rice--contributed their photographs and their statements on the importance of voting for posters distributed widely on each CUNY campus as part of the 1996 campaign.
Other CUNY-wide activities include:
- Thousands of promotional, non-partisan buttons, pens and brochures were distributed this fall on CUNY campuses.
- Gannett Outdoor provided space at selected bus shelters to display posters about Project Vote.
- For the first time this fall, every CUNY freshman application and transfer guide included a tear-out registration form so that all students applying to CUNY, whether they enrolled or not, had the opportunity to register to vote.
- Student newspapers have been provided by the University with reproductions of the voter registration form for publication.
- By mid-fall, CUNY students will be able to request a voter registration form through the CUNY home page on the Internet.
- For students who are not yet U.S. citizens, citizenship information brochures were distributed throughout the University.
- CUNY-TV has produced a half-hour citizenship show, which was aired and distributed to the campuses.
- Voter Registration Coordinators at every CUNY college are working with student government and other student organizations to plan and promote campus voter registration activities.
The efforts have had a positive impact. According to Board of Election figures , the CUNY voter registration drive earlier this year accounted for 71% of newly registered New York City voters who were processed through city and educational agencies between November 1995 and May l, 1996.
"Voter registration and involvement in the electoral process are vital to a strong democracy, and we will continue our efforts on a year-round basis to help encourage participation," said Chancellor Reynolds.
Example #2: Kids Voting
By Harold Crowley, Executive Director, Kids Voting Massachusetts
Our purpose is twofold: to educate kids about voting and citizenship, and to increase adult turnout at the polls. We piloted Kids Voting last year in Quincy, in a local election. It worked out so well, we're expanding to Plymouth. About 22-23,000 kids are involved.
The program works K through 12. The whole procedure is the same as for adults . The kids have to fill out a form, then they get a card, saying that they are a registered kid voter. Kids register other kid voters in the schools; older kids act as the registrars. We have found the high school kids are just as interested as the elementary school kids.
On Election Day, the polls for kids are open at the same time and the same place as for adults. If the adult votes at the firehouse, so will the kid. And the kids--ballot is just the same as the adult one. In high school, maybe down to grade 4 , the kids will vote on all the issues, the local referendum questions; everything is exactly the same. The kindergarten ballots have photographs on them, so that the kids can recognize who the candidates are.
A parent or other responsible adult must take the kid to the polls. Many times kids show their parents how to vote, because the parents have never voted before ; the kid understands how to do it better than the parent. Then when they vote, the kids get a sticker that says, "I voted."
In Quincy, with the Kids Voting program, we also registered parents at the school open houses. Adult registration was up by 400%, from 200 to 800. Actual voter turnout at the polls was up by 8%. A lot of people who never voted in their lives have voted because their kids voted. In Quincy, there are a lot of Asian families who had never voted, or who are not citizens. So you would have the Asian kids going to the polls to vote, and their parents beaming. It was a citizenship lesson, and encouraged many of them to become citizens. Candidates also take this with seriousness. One candidate held rallies for the kids. Another candidate didn't show up for a kids--debate, and that was shown 14-15 times on cable TV, with that candidate missing.
We raise our own money, from businesses and community organizations. Newspapers have supported us, and companies like Nynex and Stop and Shop. Our annual budget is $66,000, which comes out to a cost of $2.50 per kid.
It's a great program. It could happen in any community. The school superintendent has to buy in, and so does the Town Clerk, in preparing the lists. But kids are excited about it. They look at the elections like the World Series. One kid said he was lying awake all night thinking about who we was going to vote for.
As you know, voting among young adults is the lowest of any age group. When kids are 18 years old, they sometimes think they know everything. And they don't want to look dumb. If they haven't had the exposure to voting, and don't know how to do it, they are less likely to show up. But now that they've been exposed to voting , they are more likely to go; hopefully, this will carry over into other elections.
For more information, see the Kids Voting USA website: http://www.kidsvotingusa .org/
Or, contact the organization at:
Kids Voting USA
398 South Mill Avenue
Tempe, Arizona 85281
(602) 921-4008 fax
Example #3: A Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign in Kansas City
By Anastasia Nagy, Campaign Assistant
While a GOTV campaign is often nonpartisan in nature it can also be run by candidates seeking election. Here, we describe one such campaign run in Kansas City, Missouri.
One of the most important parts of a successful political campaign is getting your vote out--that is, making sure your supporters get to the polls. When you organize efforts to get your vote out, you run a "Get-Out-The-Vote" (GOTV) campaign. Working on a campaign for city council in Kansas City, Missouri, I planned just such an operation.
In order to run a GOTV campaign, you must know who your supporters are. One of the ways to determine this is by completing a telephone poll of the voters in your area. After obtaining a list of all of the frequent voters in our area (approximately 12,000 households), we organized a group of volunteers and paid staff to call from the list. Each caller was given a script at the beginning of the evening. Scripts should be short, as calls should take a minimal amount of time.
It can be difficult to find enough people to volunteer for any type of phone banking , so you might consider hiring people from an organization that specializes in telemarketing or taking out an ad in the local paper for part-time help. Volunteers often cannot stay the entire time, or may not show up at all. These problems are less persistent with paid callers. In addition, you may have twenty different volunteers over the course of a week. If so, each new volunteer requiring training on a nightly basis , whereas paid staff tend to remain constant. If you do not have the resources to pay a phone bank staff, you might request assistance from groups that have endorsed the candidate in finding volunteers. When we polled, the callers consisted of Union employees that supported our candidate, paid staff, and volunteers from our volunteer list. Our target was eight callers each night. By minimizing the number of paid staff, we saved money.
After completing the poll, we sorted the information into four groups: those who planned to vote for our candidate ("yes" votes), those who planned to vote for the other candidate, those who were undecided, and those who would not say or who hung up. We planned to target only the yes voters in our Get-Out-The-Vote phone bank.
The GOTV phone bank was held twice. We called people the weekend before both the primary and the general election from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Each election was held on a Tuesday, so we reached voters 48 to 72 hours before they would be going to the polls. It is important that calls are made immediately prior to election day; calling a week in advance is not as beneficial as calling in the two or three days before the election. Because there were a large number of calls to make in a short span of time, we more than doubled the amount of callers we used from the poll, with over 20 people calling. The GOTV phone bank script was short, and not only reminded supporters to vote, but also gave poll hours and offered rides to the polls. We coordinated with Unions to provide these rides. A sample GOTV script is found in Tools.
A GOTV effort is essential in running a successful campaign. People who plan on voting for your candidate cannot make a difference if they do not go vote. Identifying your voters and getting them to the polls can be the push that you need to win on election day.