Nonprofits, Business Owners Step Up Their Voter Registration Game

A Philadelphia polling place during the 2008 general election (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

September 25 was National Voter Registration Day, and in 2018, voting is no small feat. As the Brennan Center highlighted in a report earlier this year, state and local officials are systemically purging voters from the rolls, claiming that they’re countering the (mythical) scourge of voter fraud. These actions disproportionately hurt minority voters.

As The Root recently reported:

Between 2014 and 2016, 16 million registered voters were removed from state rolls, 33 percent more than were moved between 2006 and 2008. For the election of 2012 and 2016, the Brennan Center estimates that two million fewer voters would have been purged if those states had to apply by the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Here, then, is a run-down of some local efforts to fight illegitimate purging and to fill those voter rolls back up.

Wisconsin

After finding out that as of February 2018, only 375 18- or 19-year-olds were registered to vote in the city of Milwaukee, Kennita Hickman set out to sign up more of the newly legal voters. “Our City, Your Vote” is a music event happening this week that will feature hip-hop, spoken-word and R&B artists. During the concert, representatives from nonprofit organizations will register attendees to vote. It’s the first in a series of events that will continue through November 2018.

“I’ve had success and have been given opportunities [in the music industry]. That comes with the responsibility to build a better community [for urban artists],” Hickman said recently, according to the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.

Read more about Hickman’s events scheduled through November here.

Indiana

A celebration at the Civil Rights Heritage Center took place in South Bend, Indiana Tuesday, attended by civic and academic leaders. Volunteers were on hand to register voters.

“We know that young people are actually the majority of the electorate right now,” Elizabeth Bennion, American Democracy leader at Indiana University South Bend, told WBST 22 this week. “They make up more of the electorate than any other age group if we look at people under 30 years of age. But they are also the least likely to turn out.”

More info on registering to vote in Indiana is here.

Alabama

Alabama.com features a handy run-down of the many ways eligible voters can register, including using the state website and signing up at public libraries or with the “Vote for Alabama” app. More information is available here.

Texas

Volunteers will fan out throughout the cities of Austin and San Antonio. Read more about their efforts — and local polling places — here and here.

Nationwide

According to CNN, this year voter registration campaigns are reaching farther and wider into classrooms, malls and concerts. CEOs from companies such as Walmart, Southwest, Kaiser Permanente and Tyson have committed to giving their employees time off to vote. As of last week, the nonprofit voter registration group HeadCount had registered more than 40,000 people for the midterms. Their goal is 75,000, triple their previous midterm record. You can find more info on nationwide registration efforts here.

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