What Every Library Needs to Know to Get Involved in National Voter Registration Day
Participating in National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) on September 27 is a fun way to get your library involved in voter registration efforts and to train your staff about the library’s role in local elections. Staff will be able to talk about the elections in a meaningful and informative way, and, through the volunteers involved in NVRD, the library will be better connected to local political groups and individuals, reinforcing the library’s significant role in democracy. Equally important, a well-trained and comfortable staff is a huge asset if your library is looking to go to the electorate in the next few years for funding.
That’s why I’m working as an advisor to EveryLibrary, which will be officially partnering this year with the National Voter Registration Day organization to get libraries more involved in this event. Previously, with similar efforts, EveryLibrary has been able to generate some interest with volunteers and local library communities. This year, we are extremely excited to be partnering with NVRD to bring National Voter Registration Day to libraries in a much bigger way. We are working together to ensure libraries have the material they need to answer questions and train staff to handle any questions that come their way. We are encouraging libraries across the country to register with this link to take part in this huge event.
Taking part in NVRD with EveryLibrary is exceptionally easy. If you register before July 1, NVRD will send your library free marketing materials. While NVRD may help you find volunteers through their network of partnered programs, you may also want to contact some of your local agencies for volunteers. If you need to recruit your own volunteers, they can come from the local League of Woman’s Voters, a local branch of a political party, or other political organizations in your area.
There are also a number of webinars and trainings from NVRD and EveryLibrary that will be provided to ensure that libraries have everything you need to have a successful event on September 27. On the day of the event, you will simply need a table and chairs for volunteers, pens in blue or black ink, and a stack of Voter Registration forms. If you have questions about participating in NVRD, EveryLibrary will be here to help answer your questions.
6 Tips for Voter Registration
To start your library out, I drafted these 6 helpful tips for successful voter registration activities at the library.
- Sign Up for Free Promotional Materials: Again, sign up for National Voter Registration Day by July 1 and you’ll receive free stickers and posters to help you promote your event.
- Get Forms: Work with your local elections office to provide forms or affidavits, and offer to mail voter registration forms in for patrons. Be sure to provide pens that have the required blue or black ink for the forms. You can also help patrons access a voter registration form online.
- Offer Voter Registration Reminders With New Library Cards: Remind folks who are updating their library account that it’s also a good time to update their address for voter registration. I wear a button that says, “Are you registered to vote?”
- Don’t Offer Incentives: To avoid any conflict of interest, don’t give out prizes or incentives when people register to vote. But DO make it fun! Get kids involved (fun with clipboards!), give out swag to all, and use balloons or Independence Day decorations to jazz up your voter registration display. It is easy to stay non-partisan with your voter registration efforts; the library can provide this simple service without endorsing any politics.
- Know the Who and the When: To register to vote you must be at least 18 years old by election day, and you must be a citizen of the United States. In order to vote on any election day, an adult must already be registered. Become familiar with voter registration deadlines in your area, and make your registration drives seasonal before the cutoff dates.
- Check Each Form before You Mail It: Is it blue or black ink? Is it legible? Is it signed and dated? Are the birthdate and an ID number provided? Is there a phone number or email in case the election board has any questions? Mail it within 5 days. Let the patron know they should receive a voter registration card in the mail first, and ballot and polling information is usually mailed separately.
You can follow EveryLibrary through our Twitter feed or our Facebook page for more updates, or you can follow the NVRD hashtag on Twitter: #celebrateNVRD. We’ll keep you in the loop as planning gets up to speed for the event, but expect more translated materials, library support, events and an even bigger social media presence!
National Voter Registration Day is made possible by the support of thousands of partners nationwide who host events to register voters. We’re here to help! EveryLibrary wants to partner with you to bring National Voter Registration Day to as many libraries as possible.
Can you join me and take action? Just sign up to be a partner!