Holding in-person voter registration events is a great way to build support in your community for voting. The guide below provides step-by-step instructions on how to plan and execute a successful voter registration event.
Voter Registration Event “How-To”
Holding in-person voter registration events is a great way to build support in your community for voting. Nonpartisan organizations like NCJW can register voters without jeopardizing their tax-exempt statuses. Below is everything you need to hold a successful voter registration event!
Get to know your state and local election laws.
The most important part of registering people to vote is to familiarize yourself with your state and local voter registration laws. Some states or counties require people
registering voters to register with the state in advance, print official paperwork, turn in registration forms within a certain timeframe, etc. Research your local election laws well in advance of the event in case items need to be mailed or approved by a state or county office before you can register others. Ensure you know the proper guidelines for registering voters and filling out the paperwork. Registration forms are often thrown out if certain procedures are not followed. For information on rules in your county, visit your state’s Secretary of State website or contact your local Supervisor of Elections.
Set a goal.
Set a registration goal for your event and evaluate your event after it’s over to identify best practices and where to improve. Do you want to register 50 people in total? Have each volunteer register 3 people? There are no right answers — think about what makes sense for your community and level of experience.
Plan event logistics.
Consider the following when planning your voting registration event:
- Accessibility. Keep in mind practicalities like parking or public transportation. Make sure the location is completely accessible to persons with disabilities, be they volunteers or possible registrants.
- Location. Select a space big enough to accommodate volunteers and close to people interested in registering to vote. Think about holding the voter registration event near voters you want to register, like college campuses or a concert venue.
- Technology. If your state offers online voting, then consider bringing laptops or tablets to your event for possible registrants.
- Timing. Think about reserving the space for multiple hours, to give people with different work and childcare schedules a chance to attend. Build set-up and clean-up time into your plans. Consider joining existing community events, like a July 4 parade or fall festival.
- Volunteers. Given your goal, how many volunteers do you need to make it happen?
Asking groups to co-sponsor your voter registration event is a great way to divide tasks and costs, as well as boost turnout. Think both about groups with whom you already have a great working relationship and about groups with whom you want to get to know. Given the impact of voter suppression tactics on communities of color, consider working with people of color-led organizations. Get voter registration forms. If you’re registering people by hand, then you will need voter registration forms. Many states allow you to download voter registration forms from the Secretary of State website or local board of elections websites. Or, go in person to your local board of elections to pick up forms. After your event, return the completed voter registration forms as soon as possible to the local board of elections or county registrar, or drop them in the mail. This is where knowing your state’s voter registration rules is important! Different states have different rules; if you have questions, call your local board of elections. If registering voters online using an iPad or laptop, use vote.org.
You may need all or some of the following for your event:
- Voter registration forms
- Laptop / tablets
- Box for completed forms
- Table w/ NCJW signage
- Nonpartisan sign
- Music / speakers (just for fun!)
- Water & snacks for volunteers
Invite people to your event.
Get out the word in person and online.
- Create a Facebook Event: In order to publicize your event and encourage substantial turnout, it is critical you create a Facebook event early on and share it widely. Invite event partners as cohosts on the page and be sure to share the event link in emails and newsletters. To create an event, on Facebook event on your computer:
- From your News Feed, click Events in the left menu.
- Click + Create Event on the left side.
- Fill in the event name, location, date, time and description.
- Click Create. You’ll be taken to your event where you can invite guests, upload photos, add a cover photo or video, share posts and edit event details.
Use this sample text:
Is this your first election? Have you moved recently? Not sure you’re still registered to vote? If you answered YES to any of these questions, swing by Springfield’s Town Square for a National Council of Jewish Women voter registration event on April 10 from 2-5 pm ET. Volunteers will be registering people to vote while rocking out to fun music and giving away stickers and candy. Your vote is your voice – make sure it’s heard in 2020!
Invite NCJW Members and Advocates
Our voice is our vote! On [time and date], NCJW [section name] is holding a voter registration event to register members of our community members to vote. Come by on [date], at [time] at [location] to register to vote or update your voter registration information. Or, volunteer to help register others! RSVP on the Facebook event, linked here. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, contact [contact name and info]. [Include location details and anything participants should bring].
Hope to see you at [location] on [date]. With your help, we can make sure our democracy reflects our communities.
Train your volunteers.
Make sure your volunteers know what to do at your event. This section borrows from Rock the Vote’s voter registration event training.
- Welcome your volunteers. Consider a few icebreakers to ease introductions. Share your goals for the event and make sure everyone knows how important their work and time is for its success.
- Review the form. Walkthrough how to fill out the voter registration form. Point out common mistakes that they should keep an eye on 1) forgetting to sign the form, 2)
entering today’s date and registrant’s birthday in the wrong place, and 3) failing to provide a full driver’s license or the last four digits of a Social Security number.
- Strategies for Engaging Registrants. Give tips for engaging with potential registrants: 1) Everyone should ask “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” 2)
Don’t sit or stand behind the table — move around and engage people if possible. 3)Look like you’re having fun, or even better, have fun!
• Divide and conquer. Determine who will bring what to the event, when you will meet, who will clean up, and who is responsible for completed voter registration forms.
• Say thanks! No event can succeed without volunteers. Hold your event!
Be sure to arrive at least an hour early to set up your area. Communicate any changes or reminders to volunteers. Then get to work and have fun! Take photos of your
volunteers, play music, and hold engaging conversations. After the event, say thanks to your volunteers (emailing a thank you after is a great idea too!) and if planning another voter registration event, ask them to help again. Be sure to turn in your completed voter registration forms to the appropriate local official as soon as possible after your event.
Debrief and report-out. Hold a debrief session with your volunteers after your event to discuss what went well and what could be improved for future events. Capture your discussion in writing so it can be shared with future volunteer teams.
Post this voter registration sign at your events.