Why voter reg and pledge cards? What are our respective strengths? – Community organizations have grassroots relationships, but less time and capacity for voter engagement work – Voter engagement infrastructure programs have capacity and time, but no grassroots relationships
Minimizing effort, maximizing effect Community organizations are busy, likely overstretched and focused on meeting their essential missions The simpler and more effective we can make voter contacts, the more widespread the adoption Registration and commitment cards are a straightforward, low-cost and efficient way for organizations to make a big impact Very concrete, practical and clear
Pledge Cards Pilot Project: St. Paul 2011 Municipals Organizations asked clients to fill out an ‘I will vote’ commitment card for three weeks in October Cards were dropped off and picked up by hand MPP sent reminders with polling location and the names of candidates on the ballot. The messages were sent by phone, text message, email and/or mail, in accordance with the voter’s preferences listed on the commitment card.
Pledge Cards Pilot Project: St. Paul 2011 Municipals Neighborhood House, Goodwill/Easter Seals and Wilder Foundation reached 129 residents in a three-week period who committed to voting in the November 7 St. Paul municipal election. After the voter file is updated with 2011 election results on March 4, public election records will be examined to understand the voting behavior of the organization’s clients.
Voter registration Long been a central tactic and activity within nonprofit voter engagement – government grants may mandate or prohibit voter registration work Service providers play a key role in keeping the voter rolls accurate and updated Essential and necessary step, but insufficient by itself to move the needle on voter turnout
Purpose of pledge cards Raise awareness about the election Provides opt-in mechanism for those already registered Make people promise! – making a written or oral commitment increases the likelihood a person will actually perform a behavior Gather crucial information Get consent for additional contacts
Purpose of pledge cards (cont) Provide additional reminders and information to the voter – Repeated voter contacts are VERY important to increasing turnout Can be used to remind people that whether you vote is a matter of public record May be used to check registration status of your list to help people know if theirs is up-to- date or not
Options ‘Petition-style’ list Individual pledge cards Electronic or online pledge Can include an element that is sent back to voter (or not) Can include any number of opt-in ways to be contacted Can include additional information about how to participate
Opportunities Leverages what they have (relationships) with what you have (systems support) Builds and strengthens advocacy programs Allows for measurable results Can be added in a variety of ways to an existing service delivery model
Challenges Data collection (and sharing) makes organizations nervous Accuracy of data on cards – 55 th Street E – E 55 th St. – East 55 th Street – Legal name vs. your ‘everyday’ name – Transitory participants Clarity of data on cards Accuracy of data entry
What to put on the card? Should match the voter file – What goes on the voter registration card is what the voter file contains Consent language Additional voting information to leave with voter “I will vote because I care about….” Other ideas?