If you’ve ever cast a ballot, you’re familiar with the sense of empowerment that accompanies voting. It’s an amazing feeling, right? Obviously, it’s important to head to the polls yourself (or the post office if you’re voting by mail), but it’s just as important to make sure the people around you are registered. That way, they can experience the same empowered feeling. “Registering to vote is so important because it is the bedrock of our democracy,” said Julia McCarthy, Associate Director of Digital Strategy at When We All Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to increase participation in elections. Luckily, there are plenty of ways each person can help increase voter registration. The best part? Many of them only take a few minutes!
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1. Use social media to share resources
Whether you have 55 followers or 5,000, your social media accounts are your personal platforms. That means you can reshare all the information that you find helpful and relevant. Begin by resharing infographics about registering to vote on your Instagram Stories, or create a story of your own and add the ‘Register to Vote’ sticker so your followers can click through and do so on the spot. (Bonus points if you make a ‘Voting’ highlight to save the stories.) By just clicking share, you help get the topic of voter registration on your followers’ radar. It really is that simple!
2. Have conversations with loved ones about the importance of registering to vote
You’ve probably heard it said that change starts at home. According to Maya Carmosino, a 23-year-old voter, it does. “I’ve often sat down with friends and family and talked through their ballots so they feel prepared when going to the polls,” she said. Not only is this an excellent way to help your loved ones get registered, but it’s also a way to help increase voter turnout, which is just as important. (Psst … if you want to do more to increase voter turnout, take a cue from Carmosino, who sends letters to individuals who are registered but are unlikely to go to the polls through Vote Forward. “All you need are stamps, envelopes, and a printer,” she said.)
3. Host a “Boxed Wine and Ballots” event
In this era of social distancing, we’re trying to keep the in-person events to a minimum, but there’s no limit to how many Zoom events you can have! Round up a group of your friends, encourage them to bring some boxed wine, and hop on a video call. Walk them through the process of registering to vote, and help yourselves to a hearty pour of wine once everyone has submitted. Cheers to voting!
4. Become a voting squad captain through When We All Vote
If you’re ready to take on a leadership role and want to start making a difference in your community, you can sign up to become a Voting Squad Captain with When We All Vote. Captains are privy to a slew of informational resources that can help their squad gain momentum. “We train people … and give them the resource[s] they need to reach out to their community and register voters,” McCarthy explained.
5. Be proactive when you offer help—and encouragement
Sharing resources on social media is a start, but adding a personalized touch can make all the difference. According to Tasheena Ticer, a mother who believes in the importance of voting, “If you know people who haven’t registered yet, offer to walk them through the process. Be vocal about why you’re voting and help them understand that their voice matters in every election.”
6. Reach out to your alma mater to ensure young people are being encouraged to register
Did you know that in the 2018 midterms, Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X outvoted older generations? It’s true! “Young people will live with the decisions of today’s leaders for years to come,” McCarthy said. “If young people prove they are a powerful electorate, leaders will listen to their priorities and concerns.” Send a quick email to your alma mater stressing the importance of younger generations registering to vote. You can also ask friends who are alumni to reach out and send a similar message.
7. Don’t assume someone is registered; ask!
You might think your younger sister is ready to vote, but until you ask, you don’t know for sure! Get into the habit of asking people if they’re registered when an upcoming election comes up in conversation (or even ask them randomly!). Not only is this an effective way to get a conversation started about voting, but it’s also a great way to make sure that people are aware that often, registering is something they have to do before Election Day arrives.
8. Encourage people to find their ‘why’
Voting means something different for everyone. You can share your “why” when you have conversations with people about voting, and even ask them what theirs might be. For Ticer, voting presents an opportunity to elect public officials who more closely mirror her values and morals. “Most importantly, my children are growing up in this country, and I use my vote to influence the direction of their future,” she said. You can also suggest that someone thinks of their “why” when they’re going to the polls or filling out their ballot.
9. Volunteer and ask to get involved
There are so many organizations advocating for an increase in voter registration, which means plenty of ways to get involved. According to Sarah Gillim, a Massachusetts resident who volunteers with several senators and congress peoples’ campaigns, getting involved with voter registration efforts at the local politics level is just as important as the national. “The local government officials we elect determine the framework and values of the entire state, which is why every election, even local, is important,” she said.
10. Call attention to the voter registration deadline in your state
Depending on where you live, the voter registration deadline can be days or even weeks before Election Day. Set a reminder in your phone or jot down in your planner the deadline, and when it arrives, call attention to it. Post on social media stories, text friends and family, and mention it to coworkers to gently remind them that if they’re planning on casting a ballot and haven’t registered yet, there’s a deadline approaching!