Do Americans Vote

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					                                     University of Virginia Center for Politics

                                             Voter Registration
      The Youth Leadership Initiative, in conjunction with the Freedom’s Answer Project
      ( is encouraging young people across the United States to participate in a
      national voter registration and turnout drive. Through this project, students will organize a voter
      registration and turnout drive in their community. This process will help them understand voting
      requirements in their state as well as the value of participating in elections.

      1. Students will be able to identify specific voting requirements in their state.
      2. Students will be able to explain the importance of registering for and voting in elections.
      3. Students will develop public speaking skills as they meet with the public and encourage them to
         register to vote.
      4. In explaining why others should vote, students will understand why they should vote when they are
         old enough to do so.

Key words:
      Registration                            Vote/Voter Turnout                    Mid-term elections

Materials Needed:
      1. Overhead of U.S. Voter Information
      2. Overhead of Reasons for Not Voting
      3. Organizing a Voter Registration Drive Handout
      4. Registration Drive Proposal Handout
      5. Voter Registration Record Handout

      1) Warm-up Activity: Use the overhead U.S. Voter Information to open the class discussion. Cover
         the bottom section of the overhead and ask students to answer to the first question. Allow for
         discussion and then uncover the answer. Discuss reasons for the low voter turnout.
      2) Move to the second overhead and discuss the primary reasons that people don’t vote. Conclude the
         warm-up exercise by brainstorming ideas to the last question on the overhead, “How Can students
         increase voter participation?”
      3) Introduce students to the concept of a voter registration drive and inform them that they will be
         organizing one in their community. Use the form Organizing a Voter Registration Drive to review
         the goals for this project.
      4) Divide students into small teams and distribute the form Registration Drive Proposal. Ask students
         to read the instructions, complete the required research and brainstorm ideas for their registration
         drive. After completing the research and discussing their plans, students can complete the
         Registration Drive Proposal form.
      5) Meet with each team to evaluate their plans and role play the interaction they will have with
         potential voters. Be sure to reinforce public speaking skills such as an informed introduction, firm
         handshake, direct eye contact and a confident presentation of their material. It will also be important
         at this meeting to identify the form(s) students will need to submit at the end of this activity to verify
         their results and evaluate the process. A Voter Registration Record form is attached for this purpose.
6) Now that they are registered, will they vote? Talk to your students about the importance of voting.
   Voter registration is a necessary first step, but the process doesn’t stop there. Registering to vote
   never elected anyone! For every person your students register, they should also encourage that
   person to vote on Election Day. For a lesson on the importance of voting see “The Significance of
   One Vote” lesson in the YLI Classroom.
7) We also encourage you and your students to register your voter turnout project with our friends at
   Freedom’s Answer. You may access their website at A copy of their
   “Take Ten” form appears below. It’s similar in purpose to the YLI Voter Registration Record, but it
   also asks the registrant to follow through by voting on Election Day.
8) Good Luck. Have fun!!

                                                                 U.S. Voter Information

 Out of the following age groups, which do you think has the highest percentage of voter turnout? The lowest?

Answer: In order from lowest percentage of voter turnout to highest.

                                             Voter Turnout in 2000 Election


                 Percentage of Voter


                                       40%                                                       18 - 24
                                       30%                                                       25-44
                                       20%                                                       65+

                                               18 - 24         25-44      45-54       65+
                                                                Age of Voters

         Based on the information from the graph, what can students
         do to increase voter participation?
                                                                 Top Reasons People Don't Vote

                                                           Other, 11%

                                       Are not interested in
                                           politics, 5%

                                         Are not a U.S.
                                          Citizen, 5%
                                                                                                   Did Not
                                                                                                 Register, 44%
                       Are sick or disabled,

                                           No particular
                                           reason, 10%

                                                                    Do not like the
                                                                   candidates, 17%

What was the primary reason people did not vote in the
             2000 presidential election?

                Why Didn't People Vote in the 2000 Election?

                                 Other 16%

    Not interested in politics

                                                              Did Not Register 44%

       Sick or disabled 8%

     No particular reason 10%

                                 Do not like the candidates

   Based on the information from the graph, how can students
          play a role in increasing voter participation?
                                Organize a Voter Registration Drive
What Is A Voter Registration Drive?

             A voter registration drive is an organized event that helps individuals understand how to register
              to vote and why participation in the registration and voting process is important.

How Do You Organize A Successful Voter Registration Drive?

      V erify the registration requirements in your state.

      O ffer a complete package of registration materials to potential voters.

      T hink about ideal locations for a successful registration drive.

      E valuate the plans for your registration drive with your teacher before you begin.

      R egister! Register! Register potential voters!

      S ubmit the results of your voter registration drive to your teacher.
                                        Registration Drive Proposal
Students need to read the guidelines for each step in the planning process and then describe the plans for their
registration drive in the student proposal sections.

Verify the registration requirements in your state.
              It is important to know the registration requirements in your state, especially since they vary
               significantly around the country. To find your state’s requirements, complete an internet search
               using the key words “state name elections”. Students may also visit the following locations for
               registration information.
                    1. Federal Election Commission website at
                    2. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
                    3. Public Library
                    4. U.S. Post Office
                    5. County Election Offices.
                    6. National Form at (please note exceptions on website
                       for NH, WY, ND, IL, MA, MO, NM, OH, SC)

Student Proposal: (Include name of state, forms required, unique specifications for forms, deadlines,
registration locations and specific mailing instructions.)

Offer a complete package of registration materials
              It is important to identify all the forms that potential voters will need to complete in order to
               register and to have multiple copies of these forms with you at the registration drive. This
               ensures convenience for registrants and will lead to higher participation. Suggestions for
               registration materials include the following.
                    1. Copies of registration forms on the appropriate paper
                    2. Envelope and stamp
                    3. Outline of registration instructions
                    4. Information about registration deadlines

Student Proposal (Explain how you will organize the registration material on site at the registration drive
and attach all necessary documents):
                                       Registration Drive Proposal

Think about ideal locations for a voter registration drive.
              Brainstorm locations for your registration drive where you will maximize the number of people
               you can impact. Suggestions follow.
                  1. A booth in a local mall
                  2. Community/Neighborhood Gathering
                  3. Sports events
                  4. Public Places
                  5. Grocery Store

Student Proposal (Identify location of registration drive and explain why you selected this site):

Evaluate the plans for your registration drive with your teacher and receive approval to begin.
              Review the plans coordinated above to be sure that your information is accurate and that you
               have not overlooked details that will be helpful to potential voters. You should also be prepared
               to role play interpersonal skills such as an informative introduction, a firm handshake, direct eye
               contact, and confidence in explaining your registration material during this session.

Teacher comments:

                                       Registration Drive Proposal
Register! Register! Register!
              Your goal is to register as many people as possible and to help potential voters understand the
               importance of participating in the democratic process.

Student Proposal (Describe how you will explain the value of registering and voting in elections and set
specific goals for the number of people you will contact.):

Submit the results of your voter registration drive to your teacher.
             Confirm the information that you will need to submit to your teacher at the conclusion of the
              voter registration drive.
Student notes (List forms to submit to teacher):
Student Name _______________________

                                          Voter Registration Records

As individuals register to vote, ask them to sign this Voter Registration Record Form. After the voter
registration drive, turn this form into your teacher to verify the number of people you helped register for the
2002 mid-term elections. If people prefer to remain anonymous, they can write the word anonymous on one of
the spaces listed below.
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                   _________________          _________________
                                    Voter Registration Drive Reflections

In the space below, reflect on the experience of organizing a voter registration drive. Explain components that
worked well and pieces that you would adjust if you were organizing another registration drive. You may also
discuss parts of the process that you found surprising or difficult and why you think registration poses an
obstacle to U.S. citizens.

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