Beto’s plan to expand voting rights reflects his conviction that we must draw people back into the political process, expand the franchise, and guarantee that every voice counts.
To make this vision a reality, we need people in their communities to do the tough (but rewarding and important!) work of registering voters. This is where you come in! This toolkit covers how to incorporate registering voters into your Beto meetups.
This toolkit is meant to be used in conjunction with our meetup guide. Our meetup guide covers how to host a Beto meetup (any gathering of people in your community interested in talking about Beto) and the purpose of this toolkit is simply to provide details on organizing that meetup around voter registration!
We recommend reading the whole toolkit. Click here for a downloadable version.
Research local voter registration laws
Many states permit individuals or organizations to facilitate registering voters by asking voters to fill out voter registration application forms, collecting the forms and turning them in. However, in some states, you won’t legally be allowed to do that unless you work through an organization, register with and/or receive training from the state, or take other steps.
You must research the laws and regulations in your state before engaging in voter registration, as laws differ state to state and new regulations may have recently come into effect. Before you schedule your meetup, you’ll need to know who is allowed to register voters in your state, what type of training or certification is required, whether online registration is allowed in your state, and when and where to take completed voter registration forms. A good resource to check these rules is The Campus Vote Project. They have excellent state-by-state guides on voter registration drives that you can view here.
Before asking voters to fill out voter registration application forms, you should call the office of your Secretary of State or your local elections board or agency and ask if there are any rules you need to know about in order for you to collect and turn in voter registration forms.
Regardless of how you are going to help get people registered to vote, you should understand the laws about who is eligible to register and when. In all states, a person must be a U.S. citizen in order to register to vote; and must be 18 years old before the election for which they are registering in order to vote in federal elections. But there are also more detailed rules that vary state by state. And you need to know by when someone has to register in order to be on the list for a particular election—an off-year state or municipal election, the presidential primary, the 2020 general election, etc. VOTE.ORG is a great resource for more information about these rules.
Organize people at your meetup to register voters
These are some of the ways that you can organize your community to register voters:
- Host a voter registration drive as part of your meetup. You can register voters on college campuses, in apartment complexes, or in busy public places (malls, parks, downtown areas). You can also research local events happening in your community and reach out to the organizers of those events about whether or not your group can be there to register voters (parades, farmer’s markets, festivals, etc). Consider other creative places where people gather such as naturalization ceremonies, graduations, or sporting events.
- Direct the volunteers from your meetup to a third-party group already organizing volunteers to register voters. There are many organizations that work to register voters across the country such as The League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union, NextGen America, and Planned Parenthood Votes. You should check to see which of these organizations operate in your state or region or find a local group to work with. We recommend reaching out to these organizations beforehand so that you can coordinate your meetup with their voter registration efforts.
- Have everyone ask their friends and family if they’re registered to vote. If joining up with existing voter registration efforts doesn’t work for you, center your meetup around voter registration (without actually doing the voter registration) by asking everyone who comes to reach out to their friends and family about their voting status. Here’s a simple outline your volunteers should follow:
- Have everyone make a list of the friends and family members that they want to reach out to.
- Have everyone call the people on their list to make sure that the person is registered to vote at their current address. You can check someone’s voter registration status by going to https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/ or their state’s board of elections website.
- If the person isn’t registered or their registration information is incorrect or out of date, research the ways that the person can register:
- If their state allows online voter registration, walk them through the process over the phone.
- If their state doesn’t allow online voter registration, walk them through the steps that they can take to obtain and submit a voter registration form.
- Have everyone make a plan to follow up with any friends and family that you weren’t able to get a hold of during the meetup, and check in regularly until they’re registered.
Best practices when talking to voters or potential voters
We recommend that you always do three things when talking to voters or potential voters:
- Be friendly and enthusiastic with everyone you talk to.
- Talk to everyone — never make any assumptions about whether someone is eligible to register to vote or not.
- Don’t discriminate for any reason – always remain non-partisan and never suggest that people register for a specific party unless specifically permitted by law.
Best practices when asking voters to fill out registration forms
As noted above, know the rules in your state! Regardless of where you are registering voters, remember to:
- Make sure the voter completes all the spaces on the form and answers all the questions
- Never fill in information for a voter or alter or mark the form after the voter completes it
- Turn in forms as soon as you collect them and before the deadline for submitting them. You don’t want someone to think they’re registered only to find out they’re not because you didn’t turn in the form on time.
If you have any questions or need assistance from an organizer, please email us at email@example.com