Ever since 45’s election, people have been marching by the millions for women, for science, for gun control, and more. And all of that fomenting activism can make real political change in the November 6 midterm elections—that is, if all those millions of marchers get out and vote. To that end, did you know that anyone (read: you!) can hold a voter registration drive? Here’s how:
Know your local laws
Some states require training (which could take up to eight weeks, according to Jeanette Senecal of the League of Women Voters) or even a test (ahem, Colorado), so do your research through your state’s elections department. Even if training isn’t required, consider taking one of the useful online lessons many states offer.
Plan the drive
Who do you want to reach? Try targeting an underrepresented group, like young adults or people of color.
Where can you find them? Go where you can get the “biggest bang for your time,” Senecal says. Try visiting farmers’ markets, county fairs, homeless shelters, office buildings, restaurants, or naturalization ceremonies.
Pick a date. Once you know your venue, pick the time when it’ll be bustling with the most potential voters (you’ll need to get permission from venues such as high schools, parks, or private businesses). And be mindful of the deadline to register to vote, which varies by state, but is typically a few weeks or a month before Election Day.
Recruit volunteers and get the word out
Send a call out to your family and friends, or any volunteer or nonprofit groups you’re associated with. Blast your drive info out through posters, flyers, press releases, tweets, Insta posts, etc.
Collect your supplies
• Tables, chairs, balloons, candy (bribery works!), pens, and clipboards.
• All the necessary forms—your county, state, and federal registration forms and absentee ballots (typically downloadable from your state’s Secretary of State website, or by going to a local board of elections office or county registrar). When in doubt, go with the National Voter Registration Application Form (available at eac.gov), which covers U.S. registrants regardless of where they live. Each voter should only have to fill out one form, with general info like address and driver’s license or SSN (again, this varies by state).
• A tablet or laptop, if your state accepts online voter registration. The League of Women Voters has a simple form at vote411.org.
• Informational brochures on candidates and voting, including a list of polling places via vote411.org or your elections office.
Drive like you mean it
Don’t just stand there—talk to folks! “The more successful drives have people with clipboards, proactively asking,” Senecal says.
Register those voters
This is the single most important step of your drive: promptly mail in the hard-copy voter registration forms to the address designated by your local elections office. “Voting is really our chance to control what happens to us, our families, and our communities,” Senecal says. “We’re all equal in the voting booth.”
By Rebecca Huval
Illustrated by Lydia Ortiz
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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