The Voter Participation Center (VPC), formerly known as Women’s Voices. Women Vote (WVWV) conducts programs that are designed to boost the registration, turnout, issue awareness and civic involvement of the Rising American Electorate (RAE). The RAE is made up of unmarried women (women who are single, widowed, divorced or separated), people of color and young people who combined comprise 53 percent of the voting eligible population – but were only 42 percent of 2010 voters and 47 percent of those voting in 2008.

Because unmarried women make up such a large portion of the RAE and marital status is a top determinant of whether or not one registers, votes, and participates, unmarried women continue to be a unique focus of the VPC’s efforts.

In 2010, more than 71 million RAE voting-eligible members did not vote: 46 million were not registered to vote; 25 million were registered but did not turnout.  In 2008, the last presidential election year, more than 46 million Rising American Electorate members failed to vote. Of those non-voters, 37 million were not registered compared to 9 million who were. In the 2008 presidential election, for every one voter in the RAE who was registered and did not vote, there were four who were unregistered and therefore could not vote. In that same year, the VPC generated 946,822 voter registration applications in support of the mission.

Right now large percentages of these groups are not registered to vote:

  • 39 percent of unmarried women are not registered, representing  28 percent of all unregistered citizens
  • 51 percent of young people between 18 and 29 are not registered, representing  31 percent of all unregistered citizens
  • 37 percent of African Americans are not registered,  representing 12 percent of all unregistered citizens
  • 48 percent of Latinos are not registered, representing 12 percent of all unregistered citizens.

Clearly, increasing RAE participation begins with registration and the recognition that more than episodic, on-year outreach must be done to increase information levels, advocacy, RAE turnout and civic engagement.  The sheer numbers of people who make up the RAE, the fact that these are the demographic groups most likely to be unregistered, highly mobile, politically disengaged and to have little political information, combined with  recent and extensive changes to the rules of voter participation, demands a new, persistent and continuous approach to increasing their civic engagement.

The VPC has a number of research-based, proven and cost-effective registration, turnout and advocacy programs all of which are measured for their impact and effect. The VPC understands and can prove what works, what doesn’t, and how much it costs Because of this strategic R & D approach, the VPC is unique in its ability to reach and mobilize the RAE through a variety of scalable programs that are not redundant but complementary to other outreach efforts.

The long-term goal of the VPC is to ensure that the RAE is no longer underrepresented in the electorate and that their voices are heard in numbers proportionate to their strength in the population. To do this, registering and voting must be made easier and the RAE’s information levels and civic engagement must be increased. The desired outcome is to create an infrastructure of engaged citizens who vote, speak out, and weigh in on issues that matter to them and elect representatives who represent their values. The work of the VPC does not end with Election Day, but is just beginning.