August 1, 2018

How to improve voter turnout

Nation - In almost every state, persons who wished to vote in the 2016 election had to take affirmative steps to register themselves. This system of self-registration puts the burden on the individual to obtain and maintain registration status.

The exceptions were North Dakota (which does not legally mandate registration in order to vote) and Oregon, which in January 2016 became the first state in the country to implement automatic voter registration. This reform increased access to voting by using information already provided to the government in order to add eligible individuals onto the voter rolls. Under the new Oregon program, eligible voters who have a qualifying interaction with the DMV are notified by mail that they will be added to the voter rolls, unless they decline registration or opt out within 21 days by returning a postcard to the state’s election authorities....

In 2016, 288,516 people registered to vote for the first time in Oregon. Of individuals registering for the first time, 186,050—or 66 percent—were registered via the AVR program. An additional 35,000 Oregon residents whose registration had lapsed were reregistered through AVR. Given these figures, it is not unreasonable to conclude that without AVR, 220,000 fewer citizens likely would have had the opportunity to vote in the 2016 elections. Did people registered by AVR turn out to vote? Of the individuals who were registered for the first time through Oregon’s new program, a significant portion—67,902, or 36 percent—voted in 2016.

Business Insider - Sam von Hardenburgh, an interaction designer at digital agency Kettle , says voting should take a cue from games, and present some small reward (beyond an "I Voted" sticker) to congratulate voters after they've submitted their ballot. "Some of the best (and most addictive) digital products reward users in a way that reinforces their motivation for taking action. However, the current experience of inserting a ballot into the box is nothing notable," she explains. Something as simple as an interesting light display or satisfying sound or graphic could make people feel acknowledged for casting their ballot and assure them that their vote counts, von Hardenburgh says. And that might make them more likely to keep voting in the future.

Make Election Day a holiday. - This idea, of course, is popular among many other people besides designers — and some US companies are already giving employees time off to vote . So it's not surprising that [Jason De Turris, Chief Strategy Officer at brand innovation agency Phenomenon] thinks it could make a difference. Beyond just closing offices, he says the holiday should also involve neighborhood- or city-wide celebrations, such as costume parties, street fairs or barbecues. "What if people were invited to a themed party and voting was just a small portion of it?" he asks.

New York Times - Coloradans have long been among the nation’s most enthusiastic voters, and last November, Denver set a personal best: 72 percent of those registered voted — much more than in most major cities.

“For us, this is a customer service issue,” said Amber McReynolds, Denver’s director of elections. “Whatever we can do to better serve our voters, we’re going to do.”

Denver mailed a ballot to every registered voter. Voters could fill it out at home and then mail it in or bring it to a drop box. Mailed ballots could be tracked with bar codes.

Voting at home was popular; 92 percent of voters chose to do it. Those who did go to a polling place could do so anywhere in the city — near home or near work.

There were other modernizations: People could register and vote on the same day. Those who moved had their voter registration changed automatically when they updated their driver’s license.

Poverty Action Lab - Researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to evaluate the impact of Election Day festivals on voter turnout. They selected 14 geographic areas across the United States with upcoming local, state, or federal elections in 2005 and 2006. These communities were not randomly selected, but they varied considerably in socioeconomic and ethnic makeup.

.... Researchers partnered with local community groups and Working Assets, a phone company that funds political campaigns, to organize and advertise Election Day festivals. In the week leading up to the elections, they advertised the festivals through local newspapers, fliers, posters, lawn signs, and pre-recorded phone calls. All festivals were open to the public, family friendly, and featured music and free food. The festivals occurred under large tents near polling places. While advertisements described the events as election festivals, attendance was not contingent on voting. Results and Policy Lessons

Voters in precincts where a festival occurred were significantly more likely to vote than voters in precincts without a festival. Researchers estimate that in precincts with voter turnout of 50 percent—turnout typical in major US elections—holding an election festival would increase turnout by 6.5 percentage points. In precincts with a 10 percent voter turnout—typical turnout in precincts in this evaluation—election festivals are expected to increase turnout by 2.6 percentage points.

Based on these findings, researchers found that the festivals were a relatively cost-effective way of increasing voter turnout.

Time - Since the 19th Century, U.S. elections have been held on a Tuesday in November, a day originally chosen because it would allow farmers to travel on horseback to the polling place.
That’s not the case in countries such as Greece, Australia and Brazil, which hold elections on the weekend. Some argue that a similar move would make it easier for more Americans to get out to vote.

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