WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Four million eligible voters in 28 states will soon have an opportunity to apply to register to vote when they receive voter registration applications in the mail. Americans everywhere also will be able to check their voter registration status or obtain a registration application online, thanks to the efforts of several non-partisan civic engagement groups which are conducting the outreach.
“With 73 million citizens eligible but not registered to vote, it is critical to help women and men from all walks of life, regardless of party, have a voice on Election Day,” said Page Gardner, President and CEO of the non-profit Voter Participation Center (VPC).
The VPC and partners including the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) have mailed four million official voter registration applications, along with information and instructions that have been reviewed by the election officials in each of the 28 states. Eligible voters can fill in, sign the applications and mail them straight to election registrars’ offices in pre-addressed envelopes to be certified by government officials.
More than one third (37%) of eligible African American voters, and nearly half (48%) of eligible Hispanic Americans, over half of young people (18-29) and approximately a third of unmarried women are not registered to vote, according to 2010 Census data.
“Our democracy is strongest when the greatest number of people can take part,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “This year, the NAACP will continue our tried-and-true approaches to expanding the electorate, but we are also excited to deploy new digital tools that can provide information faster and reach wider and younger audiences than ever before. We need to use every tool at our advantage to make sure this democracy is ‘of the people.’”
Election officials often have neither the time nor the resources to conduct widespread outreach.
“Our organizations are working to uphold the integrity of our democratic process, by ensuring that all eligible Americans have the access and the opportunity to register and vote,” said Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, NCLR Director of Civic Engagement. “We’re reaching out to unregistered citizens in a variety of ways to advance the goal of a democracy that fully reflects the nation.”
Labor groups are also sponsoring mailings and other efforts.
“We’re working overtime this year to make it as convenient as possible for America’s working people to register and then vote,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President. “Increased voter participation means a stronger country.”
In addition to helping voters, the non-profit-sponsored mailings also conserve government resources by cutting costs to print voter application forms and by helping reduce the last minute crush of new applications that come into registrars’ offices just before a Presidential election.
The VPC, which runs the largest mail-based voter registration operation in the nation, has helped more than 1.6 million Americans join the voting pool since 2004.
The latest mailings cap a 12-month effort led by the VPC that has helped close to half a million people return voter registration applications to state election officials across America.
VPC purchases and refines mailing lists of individuals whose names do not appear to be on the official state list of registered voters. States do not provide official lists of unregistered, eligible voters.
VPC mailings provide a number of ways in which an individual can check his or her voting registration status, including a “QR” barcode on the mailer that recipients can scan with a smartphone to link to online resources. The mailers also list the Secretary of State’s website address.
While mailed applications will reach millions, many more are reached online with digital tools.
A new smartphone app from the Election Protection project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, available at www.866ourvote.org, allows citizens to not only quickly and easily check their registration status but also get registered to vote, find a polling place or contact Election Protection experts if they have questions or concerns.
Rock the Vote’s new interactive on-line site “Electionland” (http://electionland.com/) answers questions about the 2012 election process, lets eligible people submit or request registration applications or absentee ballots as allowed by state law, and enables those with questions or problems to connect with state or local election officials. Through its “We Will” campaign, Rock the Vote also is working to register 1.5 million voters aged 18-29. “We Will” celebrates the power of young voters, through top-performer rock concerts at the Republican and Democratic national conventions and a national “Road Trip 2012” voter registration bus tour.
Other online and in-person voter registration efforts are also underway.
NCLR’s Mobilize to Vote (M2V) campaign includes canvassing, network and digital voter engagement strategies to expand registration opportunities for the growing Latino electorate. Those who prefer to register online or via their smartphone can visit www.nclr.org/register. They can also join NCLR’s M2V Vote Challenge to help register friends and family at www.nclr.org/challenge or by texting POWER to 62571 and sign up for election updates by phone by texting VOICE to 62571.
“Our combined mailings, the new websites and apps and other efforts to help people register and vote in 2012 stand in stark contrast to those who are trying to block some people from voting in America,” said Gardner. “We believe in the bedrock principle of our nation: elections should be free, fair and accessible to all.”
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