University of Virginia Center for Politics Voter Registration Purpose: The Youth Leadership Initiative, in conjunction with the Freedom’s Answer Project (www.freedomsanswer.net) 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. Objectives: 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 Procedures: 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 www.freedomsanswer.net. 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!! (Overhead) U.S. Voter Information Out of the following age groups, which do you think has the highest percentage of voter turnout? The lowest? 18-24 25-44 45-64 65+ Answer: In order from lowest percentage of voter turnout to highest. Voter Turnout in 2000 Election 70% 60% Percentage of Voter 50% Particiaption 40% 18 - 24 30% 25-44 45-54 20% 65+ 10% 0% 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, 8% No particular reason, 10% Do not like the candidates, 17% (Overhead) 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 5% Did Not Register 44% Sick or disabled 8% No particular reason 10% Do not like the candidates 17% 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 http://www.fec.gov 2. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) 3. Public Library 4. U.S. Post Office 5. County Election Offices. 6. National Form at http://www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm (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.