Get the Word Out

A successful campaign for automatic voter registration educates and engages people in your community. Use:

Social Media: Check out these examples from the Bus Project, which organized for Oregon’s New Motor Voter program. The Bus Project:

Remember to take pictures, and share them with us on twitter or facebook!

Op-Eds: Send opinion pieces or updates like the ones below to newspapers.

Press Releases: Press releases are another useful way to work with local media to educate people in your state. For example:

  • The Brennan Center for Justice issued this press release when Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed automatic voter registration into law.
  • California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued this press release when California’s legislature passed automatic voter registration.

Check out our templates for press releases, op-eds, sample tweets, and sample graphics to start getting the word out in your state!

Sample Graphics

Use these sample graphics and templates to help your message pop on social media:

Oregon Stats.png

Caption: 

Sample Op-Ed

Fill in the blanks below for an op-ed on automatic voter registration.

CHOOSE one of the following for the first paragraph:

  1. [Start with a brief story about voter registration from your state.]
  2. [Iris Hodge is a single mother from Portland, Oregon. For Hodge, rent increases and job changes have meant moving frequently - approximately every two years. Taking care of her family leaves Hodge little time for worrying about a complicated voter registration process every time she moves, and she isn’t alone. About 29,000 people in Oregon could not vote in the 2008 and 2012 elections because they registered to vote after the registration deadline. “Between my busy work schedule and caring for my son I could easily imagine myself forgetting to update my registration with my new address,” Hodge said. “[Automatic voter registration] would ensure my voice is heard.”]

Automatic Voter Registration is an innovative system that registers voters electronically with data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, streamlining the registration process and reaching a greater number of people who are eligible to vote. Five states - Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont, and Connecticut - have passed “New Motor Voter” laws, and early reports show significant increases in the number of registered voters and in voter participation. Several states, including [State Name], are working toward passing automatic voter registration. New Motor Voter laws are an important piece of a growing movement in states across the country to modernize and expand access to the ballot box.

Strong civic engagement is the bedrock of our democracy; without it, the political process that ensures our voices are heard is missing a critical piece. In the 2014 election cycle, voter participation dropped to 36%, the lowest since World War II. According to Pew, in the U.S., 65% of people who are eligible to vote are registered, compared with 96% in Sweden and 93% in the U.K. To encourage more people to participate, we need to register more people to vote - in 2014, 90% of registered voters actually voted, so we know registration and voting are connected.  

In [State Name], [Number of Unregistered Citizens] eligible citizens cannot exercise their voice because they are not registered to vote. Modernizing our elections and shifting the responsibility of protecting and expanding voting rights from the individual to the state will dramatically increase the likelihood that those [Number of Unregistered Citizens] will participate in our elections. The benefits of automatic voter registration are particularly striking for young people. In Oregon, just over 50% of new voters were between 18 and 35 years old, and young people registered through the Oregon Motor Voter program voted in the 2016 Oregon primary at similar or higher rates than young people registered through traditional methods.

Historically, voter registration has acted as a barrier to the fundamental right to vote; in [State Name], automatic voter registration could transform voter registration into an opportunity for all our citizens to participate in the political process. Together, we can bring our elections into the 21st century, and it is urgent that we do. Corporate and special interests are working to enact barriers to voting that silence our voices and disproportionately affect minorities, young people, and other vulnerable populations. Some states are cutting back on measures like early and absentee voting and same-day registration and moving our country backward with laws designed to make voting harder, not easier. Nationwide, the Brennan Center for Justice estimates approximately 50 million eligible Americans remain unregistered to vote, and approximately 24 million registrations contain errors or outdated information that bar registered voters from the ballot box. A wealthy few would rather keep 74 million eligible Americans from voting; in [State Name], we must stand together to move our democracy forward, not back.

States and state legislatures across the country are moving automatic voter registration forward because it works. During Oregon Motor Voter’s first seven months, the Oregon Secretary of State reported 206,554 residents registered to vote using the program. The Elections Division sent an average of 831 new voter registration cards per day - before the automatic voter registration, Oregon registered only 2,023 new voters per month. In Vermont, state officials estimate that automatic voter registration could add as many as 50,000 new voters, and in California, state officials estimate that the New Motor Voter Act could reach about 6.6 million unregistered citizens are eligible to vote.

We already know we can succeed. In the face of these attacks on our democracy, a record-breaking 1.2 million people voted in Oregon’s primary because of the stunning success of Oregon Motor Voter. [State Name] can lead the charge to break records in every election and every state until every voice is heard. Automatic Voter Registration is a crucial first step in building a government that works for all of us, in our state and across the nation, and the people of [State Name] are determined to take it.

 

 

Sample Press Release

If your state legislature introduces an automatic voter registration bill, fill in the blanks below to tell the press about it. Use this format to write press releases when you have campaign updates.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

[Insert date]

CONTACT: [Insert name]

[Insert email]

[Insert phone]

[State Name] State Legislature Introduces [Name of Act]

Modernizing our elections with a New Motor Voter system ensures every voice is heard in our state’s political process.

CITY - State legislature introduced [Bill Number], a measure that would enact an automatic voter registration or “New Motor Voter” system in [State Name]. This system would add thousands of new registrants to the voter rolls when they apply for or renew driver’s licenses or state IDs at the Department of Motor Vehicles. If they choose, citizens can opt out of registering or request to be removed from the voter rolls at any time.

The [State Name] [Name of Act] shifts the burden of registering to vote from the individual to the state and transforms voter registration from a barrier to an opportunity to include as many eligible voices in the political process as possible. Automatic Voter Registration has proven successful in dramatically increasing voter participation; in Oregon, the first state to fully implement the program, registration jumped from just over 2,000 new voters per month to an average of 831 per day during the first six months.

The program is particularly important for young people; 50% of the 206,554 Oregonians registered to vote during the first seven months of Oregon New Motor Voter were under the age of 35, and young voters registered to vote through the DMV equaled or outnumbered voters registered using traditional methods across Oregon’s election districts.

In [State Name], we must deliver on the promise of a democracy that listens to every voice and counts every vote equally. Automatic voter registration is an innovative strategy for modernizing our elections that will help engage a larger, more diverse body of citizens, especially vulnerable populations like young people. Voting should be easier, not harder, because when some voices cannot access our state’s democracy, we all miss out. [Name of Act] will help expand the fundamental right to vote for everyone and ensure that our state’s government truly represents the people of [State Name].

[Name of Organization] strongly urges the state legislature to pass [Name of Act] and stand with the people of [State Name]. “This bill represents the promise of American democracy, a democracy that is of, by, and for the people,” said [Organization Leader]. “Our state depends on equal access to the ballot box, and [Name of Act] will protect the civic sacrament of voting, strengthen the foundation of our democracy, and give our families and our communities the voice we need.”

 

 

Sample Tweets

Sample Tweets: These tweets are a good starting point for amplifying your work among allies and activists. For particular pieces of legislation, use the bill number as a hashtag - in California, for example, activists and advocates used #AB1461. You can also use a more generic hashtag, such as #AVRforAll, or a hashtag specific to your state, such as #AVRinIL (the hashtag Illinois activists used to get the word out). As much as possible, use one or two hashtags consistently.

Tip: Circulating sample tweets among friends and fellow activists can help generate exposure and encourage more people to mobilize and engage with work to expand voting rights.

  • A strong democracy depends on strong citizen participation – #[Bill] guarantees everyone has a voice. #AVRforAll
  • Contact your legislator today and demand action on #[Bill] to protect our state’s democracy. #AVRforAll
  • Together, we can make sure everyone has a voice in our state’s democracy. #AVRforAll #[Bill]
  • Support automatic voter registration and help remove the first barrier to the fundamental right to vote. #AVRforAll #[Bill]
  • The registration gap is hardest on young people. #[Bill] gives our children the access they need to become tomorrow’s voters #NewMotorVoter
  • Together, let’s show America that [State Name] believes in protecting the right to vote for everyone. #AVRforAll #[Bill]
  • In [State Name], we can ensure everyone has a voice in our democracy with automatic voter registration. #AVRforAll #[Bill]
  • I support #[Bill] because I support the voices of millions more citizens who will be registered to vote in [State Name]. #AVRforAll