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  • View the video above for a 101 on voter registration and launching volunteers for voter registration drives.
  • Then, refer to the tabs below for more in depth guidelines on different aspects of voter registration.

Download the slide deck here for your review and reference: voter engagement and launching volunteers

Before you begin helping constituents register to vote, it is important to familiarize yourself with local voter registration laws and procedures. Some states like Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, and Texas you must be deputized before you register anyone. For example, in Texas you must do an in-person seminar to register voters and it only happens once or twice a month. The earlier and quicker you understand your state law, the easier the process should be. The first step in educating yourself is to check the Fair Elections Center website for their“Voter Registration Drive Guides.”

  1. Know your audience. Take note of who you’re targeting and issues that are important to them.
  2. Understand the voter registration process. Check locality for voter registration deadlines, procedures for voter registration drives, and translated materials.
  3. Give volunteers one script that they can personalize. 
  4. If you are tabling, never sit behind a table. Rather, approach people with a clipboard at your side. Identify where students are naturally gathering such as locations where they are waiting in line.
  5. You can directly ask people to register to vote. “Have you updated your voter registration?”, “Did you move since the last time you voted?” But if that is not working, capture your audiencelink their self interest to the importance of voting. 
  6. Help your constituents complete the form. Make sure that they fill it out according to state-specific guidelines
  7. Double check that the form with the registrant before they leave to ensure it’s filled out correctly. Make sure you ask them their first name just in case they messed up their last name and first name. 
  8. Encourage registrants to turn in the registration form to you. If they’d prefer to turn it in by themselves, make sure they know how to do so.
  9. Ask everyone to sign a pledge card and to volunteer.
  10. Wear your organization’s t-shirt or “Register to Vote” button to identify yourself.

The option to register online is becoming more widely available and brings convenience to people trying to get registered on the go. Our program conducts online voter registration with the Rock the Vote (RTV) tool, in which each Ambassador campus has a unique URL that will automatically track the people who you register – please contact your APIAVote advisor if you do not know your unique RTV  link. However, online registration might still require you to print the form for two reasons: 

  1. the state you are trying to register in does not allow online registration
  2. You do not have a license or state-ID from the state you are trying to register in. 

The best time to use Online Voter Registration is for social media pushes, or as a supplement if you don’t have a National Voter Registration form at your VR drive. Even if you are doing all paper voter registration, it would be good to have one computer or tablet handy just in-case you run out of paper state or national forms. 

Pro-Tip: If possible, have a printer nearby just in case voters need to print and mail their voter registration application before they forget!

NOTE: These states do not have online registration

Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming

The traditional way of registering voters is still the easiest and fastest way to do so. Pick up forms from your local elections office, or print them off online. Be aware of the different state laws, because depending on the state it may be easier to print them off online or you must get them from your local elections office. Paper registration is where mistakes are most likely to happen. It’s imperative that you train all of your volunteers on how to identify mistakes and be vigilant in tracking forms.

State forms are usually preferable over the National Voter Registration form, but make sure you have several national forms for students who want to vote at home. Reference the guidelines at the beginning of the national forms to understand what is required of each state in order to register to vote. Some states do not require a driver’s license or social security number, and some states require party affiliation and race information, so always reference the guide to ensure your registrants are filling out the form properly. 

Reference the Voter Registration Checklist and the voter registration tips below to learn more about how to conduct a successful paper voter registration drive.

We ask you to track information from the paper registration forms for two reasons: (1) to track the number of registrations that goes towards your VR goal and to follow up with registered voters through GOTV efforts. Keep in mind that in some states, there are laws regarding redaction before photocopying, so we advise that you do not photocopy your registrations. The best way to track is to record on an excel tracking sheet. The baseline information we need from each form is name, phone number, and address.

Pledge to vote cards are a great way to follow up with people that you speak to during your voter registration drives, whether they just got registered or they’re already registered! These cards can be physical or digital, and should have fields for name, address, and phone number. It is a great idea to have them ready at any vote registration event that you are hosting. Ask people to pledge to vote on the cards, and collect them so you can follow up with reminders before the next election or event!

PRO TIP: If you are working with an organization that won’t let you record your VRs to submit to APIAVote, use Pledge to Vote cards to capture the same information!