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 4.3 million people register and cast ballots.
Why is VPC mailing people in my community?
The VPC sends voting-related mail 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. Since 2003, VPC has helped register and mobilize more than 4.2 million people.
What type of mail does VPC send?
VPC sends 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 sister organization, the Center for Voter Information, sends similar types of mail as well as information about issues.
Please see three recent examples of the kinds of mail VPC sends:
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?
Our goal is to work successfully and transparently with elections 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 elections 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. And 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.
The VPC shares the same goals of those elections 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 sister organization, the Center for Voter Information is a 501(c)4 which also focuses on voter registration and mobilization. Its mailings and digital ads educate voters on where candidates stand on key issues.
How do you use text messages?
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. 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. Our team receives these data from vendors, then goes through 22 additional data quality steps to improve the accuracy of the list. 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.
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 our error rates have shrunk to less than a fraction of a percent across all our programming.
What are some specific steps VPC takes to reduce errors in its mailings?
Errors are very rare, 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.