The VPC’s registration programs are built on years of research and testing, list enhancements and the development of groundbreaking models. In 2008, the VPC generated a little less than one million voter registration applications in 35 states. Catalist — the national organization that tracks voter registration efforts — confirmed that the VPC (then WVWV) was highly and singularly effective in identifying, contacting, registering, and mobilizing individuals in key demographic groups who were otherwise highly unlikely to vote. Most of the contacts the VPC made in 2008 did not overlap with any other independent organizations that Catalist tracked—81 percent would not have been reached out to at all if not for WVWV’s efforts. In addition, VPC applicants turned out at higher rates than other organizations’ registrants. The New Organizing Institute (NOI), in its “Voter Registration Analysis 2008,” found that 87.8 percent of the 946,822 VPC applicants were successful registrants and 77 percent of them voted.
In 2010, VPC programs led to new discoveries including the finding that quarterly, research-driven 2011-2012 registration programs for those who recently move or are near their 18th birthday are the most effective in generating an applicant at the lowest cost.
The New Organizing Institute’s 2010 report on midterm registration efforts stated, “Mail Programs registered a disproportionately high number of African Americans and Hispanics. It’s worth noting that large portions of mail programs specifically targeted African Americans and Hispanics.” These mail applications were overwhelmingly generated by the VPC. In fact, according to the NOI data, the VPC had more successful registrations than any other independent group in many states, including: Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Texas and Washington. In addition, NOI data indicates that WVWV had the highest ratio of applications turning into successful registrations of any group included in their analysis. The NOI found that 93.9 percent of VPC 2010 applicants were successfully registered.
The VPC’s quarterly, research-driven 2011-2012 registration programs will focus on:
Movers: The members of the RAE are highly mobile. According to the latest Census data, 41 percent of unmarried women and 42 percent of the total RAE moved between November 2006 and November 2010, compared to only 24 percent of non-RAE and 27 percent of married women. Controlled experimental trials by the VPC have established that movers respond best shortly after their move. As a result, it appears that quarterly voter registration mailings can dramatically cut the cost of a voter registration. The timing of movers registration efforts and the development of a new movers model developed by the VPC as a result of its 2010 program lowers the cost per net additional vote by 37 percent.
Young people of color turning 18: VPC experiments showed that reaching out to election-year eligible young people just as they turn 18 yielded significant positive results: seventeen year-olds on the cusp of turning 18 returned registration forms at 1.6 times the rate of 18 year-olds and at more than double the rate of 19 year-olds. VPC research demonstrated that mailing 17 year-olds just as they turn 18 on a quarterly basis results in lowering the cost of a voter registration application from a young person of color by 31 percent and cuts in half the cost of generating a net additional vote from a young person of color.
Voting Age Population (VAP): Apart from movers and young people, the VPC will continue to test ways in which to ensure that members of the RAE are registered. In 2010, there were more RAE citizens who were unregistered (46 million) than voted (40 million) and in 2008, a presidential election year, these numbers were equally as astounding: more than 46 million Rising American Electorate members failed to vote – 37 million of those non-voters were not registered; 9 million were registered, but failed to vote. The VPC is building voter registration models and using advanced list-based technologies to understand who is truly unregistered. A mail-based program allows the VPC to achieve near universal reach and target those truly in need of registration applications.
The VPC builds its models according to the needs and demographics of its treatment groups. The VPC is in the process of building a VAP model to increase effectiveness of registration efforts targeted to this group. By working to understand what keeps certain groups from registering, we can shape our models and programs to target them specifically.
According to 2010 Census data from 15 of the states where the VPC has worked (CO, FL, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NM, NV, OH, OR, PA, VA, WA AND WI), more than 3.8 million RAE members have moved between 2006 and 2010 and 1.25 million 17 year-olds will turn 18 in the next year, making it more than 5 million people in just these 15 states who need to be registered or re-registered and who should be targeted by VPC Movers and Birthday programs.
Beginning in September of 2011, the Voter Participation Center will begin its quarterly voter registration programs and mail approximately 500,000 voter registration applications to unregistered, underrepresented Americans in 20 states. These applications are being sent to unmarried women – women who are single, divorced, separated or widowed – people of color and young voters who are unregistered, have moved since the last election and need to re-register, and young voters who will be eligible to vote for the first time in 2011.
These states include:
Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
The notification process used by the VPC is open and transparent. The VPC provides the Secretaries of State or appropriate election officials in each state, samples of the mailings, as well as letters explaining the details of the list and mailing process before it does any mailings. The VPC also contacts these elections officials and works with them to incorporate any changes or additions they may have for the mailings. The valuable contributions from state election officials help the mailing process go smoothly and effectively assist potential voters.
Online Voter Registration: More and more states are offering individuals the ability to register online. The VPC will design programs to test whether driving people to these voter registration sites to encourage them to register produces net registrations.