Successful Voter Outreach

Five ways to get your patrons ready for Election Day

August 28, 2018

Women’s Suffrage Parade, New York City, 1915
Women’s Suffrage Parade, New York City, 1915

Libraries offer a prime opportunity for voters to gain access to critical information they need to cast a knowledgeable vote. Whether your library has a longstanding voter engagement effort underway or you’re just getting started, here are some tips for getting the most out of your voter outreach campaign this year.

Offer nonpartisan voter registration

The data couldn’t be clearer: Millions of Americans miss the opportunity to vote in major election years because they aren’t registered to vote. In fact, nearly one in five (21.4%) eligible Americans is unregistered. Electoral underrepresentation is particularly high among young people, especially those with no college experience.

Offer nonpartisan voter registration opportunities at your library. Be sure to find out your state’s voter registration deadline, then check with your election officials, local League of Women Voters, or other organizations to see how they can help. They may be able to provide voter registration applications, suggest instructions for setting up online opportunities to register (if your state allows it), and provide other unbiased election information.

Target people who have recently moved

Many people don’t realize they need to update their voter registration if they move to a new state, a new city, or even an address in the same city. Post signs pointing people who have recently moved to your voter registration information resources.

Host an event

Sign up to become a National Voter Registration Day partner. Host your own voter registration drive or team up with a local organization. You’ll receive free materials, stickers, and training once you sign up as a partner.

Cover the basics

Voters, especially newly registered ones, need basic information in order to successfully cast a vote. Provide succinct details at your library specifying when Election Day will take place, how to locate polling places, who will be on the ballot, and any other details (such as an identification requirement to vote or whether early voting is an option in your state). Again, election officials or local League of Women Voters can be an excellent source of information. Check out the league’s site, www.VOTE411.org, for easy-to-find information about voting in all 50 states.

Attend a free webinar

Need more information? Join the American Library Association’s Washington Office on Thursday, September 6, at 3 p.m. Eastern time for a free webinar with Maggie Bush of the League of Woman Voters to learn about several nonpartisan ways that your library can get involved and ensure your patrons are prepared for election season.

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