The Voter Participation Center (VPC) was founded in 2003 to help members of the Rising American Electorate register and vote. Since then, the organization has helped more than 4.4 million people register and cast ballots.
Why is VPC mailing people in my community?
VPC sends voter registration applications, vote by mail applications, and get out the vote mailings and digital outreach to young people, people of color and unmarried women, a group we call the Rising American Electorate (RAE). The RAE represents 64% of the voting eligible population in the United States but registers and votes at lower rates than other groups. Only 65% of the RAE is registered while 35% are unregistered. Our efforts are extraordinarily successful. In fact, since 2003, VPC has helped register and mobilize more than 5 million people.
What type of mail does VPC send?
VPC sends voter registration applications, vote-by-mail applications and get out the vote mailings, such as information about a voters’ history of voting or not voting in past elections compared to other people in their community. These are all designed to encourage citizens to participate in democracy. Our partner organization, the Center for Voter Information, sends similar types of mail, as well as information about current issues.
Please see three recent examples of the kinds of mail VPC sends:
Is registering to vote and voting by mail safe? What about claims of fraud?
Registering to vote and voting by mail are proven to be safe, secure and effective. If an eligible voter receives an extra application in the mail, they can simply throw it away to avoid any confusion. Our efforts are extraordinarily successful. In fact, since 2003, we have helped register more than 5 million people, and have generated millions of vote-by-mail applications in the 2020 cycle alone.
Will my mail-in registration or absentee ballot application be counted? When should I send it in?
Yes, mail-based registration and vote-by-mail applications will be honored, whether from state election officials or third-party organizations such as VPC and CVI, as long as the information included is accurate, complete and sent in a timely manner. Our mailings are in compliance with state election laws, as explained in more detail below. Eligible voters should adhere to deadlines set by their state election officials, but we recommend sending in completed applications as soon as possible.
What is VPC’s process for voter registration?
Our voter registration mail includes a letter urging the recipient to register and an official state or national voter registration form. It also includes an envelope with pre-paid postage addressed to their relevant election office. VPC does not handle people’s voter registration forms.
Does VPC work with election officials?
VPC and its partner, the Center for Voter Information, work across the country to fill gaps in state and local efforts to empower citizens to register and cast their ballots.
Our goal is to work successfully and transparently with election officials and the public. That is why we make a copy of a typical mailer available online (pdf) and provide a brief orientation video to election officials. Additionally, before each mailing we contact election officials and inform them of the upcoming mailing, the number of pieces being mailed and the exact type of registration mail being sent.
Before we develop mailings, we systematically communicate with election officials to ensure that our mail is accurate, reflects recent changes in the law and meets the standards of local election officials. Ahead of major voter registration mailings, we send sample mail to election officials. We’ve made several improvements to our work over the years, thanks to constructive suggestions from election officials and their constituents. Some states have even agreed to work with us by comparing our mail universes with their databases of registered citizens to enhance the accuracy of the lists.
VPC shares the same goals of those election officials that want to ensure all eligible citizens can register, vote and make their voices heard in our democracy.
How does VPC operate as a non-profit?
VPC is a 501(c)3 non-partisan, non-profit organization. We focus on registering people and encouraging them to vote, but do not tell them which candidates to vote for. Our partner organization, the Center for Voter Information, is a 501(c)4 which also focuses on voter registration and mobilization. Its mailings educate voters on where candidates stand on key issues.
How do you use text messages?
What if someone finds an error in your mailing?
Error reporting is critical for helping us improve our program. Errors can be reported when people unsubscribe from mailings. Common errors include the intended recipient of a piece of mail having moved, the recipient registering under a more formal version of their name (e.g. “William” rather than “Bill”), a recipient being ineligible to register due to age or citizenship status, and intended recipients having passed away. In an effort to mitigate errors, VPC mail includes clear instructions for checking one’s voter registration status if a recipient believes that they are already registered. The mail also has clear language about not completing the form if one is ineligible to do so. We take error reporting and program improvements to reduce error rates very seriously. As a result of our efforts to improve, our error rates have shrunk to less than a fraction of a percent across all our programming, and any errors that do occur do not lead to voter disenfranchisement.
How does VPC identify voters and households?
No state maintains a list of unregistered individuals. Therefore such a list must be constructed by comparing voter file data to commercially available data. Because states don’t maintain lists of people who are able to vote but not yet registered, we must take these steps to effectively identify and reach potential voters. These data sets are matched against one another and the names and addresses of those on the voter files are removed. Matching is not a perfect process, and yet, it is a highly accurate one. VPC relies on a number of commercial data sets to identify individuals who are not yet registered at their current address.
What are some specific steps VPC takes to reduce errors in its mailings?
Errors are very rare, and we take them very seriously. But when they occur, voters will often contact election officials to ask about our mailings. Our team checks mail against multiple data sources, including lists of registered voters, the national change of address database, and the Social Security Death Master File. We also eliminate names from our mailing that are very rare, since they usually indicate errors in underlying data, as well as names that are commonly associated with fictitious characters or pets, which usually represent people who have signed up for commercial services using those names. We also check addresses against the Coding Accuracy Support System maintained by the U.S. Postal Service and use two separate systems to accurately assign mail to the correct county when county-level officials are responsible for voter registration. We are constantly testing and improving our programming and data sources to increase the number of people we can register and reduce errors.
What other programs does VPC and CVI run?
VPC and CVI also do digital advertising campaigns to encourage people to register and vote.
How can people unsubscribe from your mailings?
Each mailing has a unique code and instructions for unsubscribing online.
How can I contact VPC?
Please fill out the form on our contact us page and a member of our staff will get back to you shortly.