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vote, and get others to vote

Voting is the bare minimum participation in a self-governed society. It's the most valuable right we could ask for. Every day, people around the world die fighting for their right to vote. Let your voice be heard! Help more people to vote by helping register people to vote. Let's vote, vote our conscience, and get others to vote too.

Register Yourself

Register now or send URLs to your friends. These sites ask questions and then spit out a pre-filled-out PDF form that you can print and mail. The site will also tell you where to mail it and the registration deadlines.

Register yourself now via YourVoteMatters, JustVote, or Rock the Vote.

Register Other People

Registering other people to vote encourages community participation. This can lead to community participation in other ways: discussion, volunteering, self-organizing for good causes, advocacy, and collaborative solutions in a complex world. If you want to register other people to vote, you'll need...

  • Registration forms. Use your state's form or the national form.
  • Clipboards. People can fill forms out immediately if you bring clipboards. If they say they'll fill it out at home and mail it, they are 90% likely to be mistaken! Get them to fill it in and sign it right then.
  • Cheap pens. Bring lots of cheap pens and possibly a cup to store them and to make them look accessible.
  • Rubber bands. Rubber bands will secure forms and other objects in the wind.
  • Good proactive attitude. You have to proactively ask people politely but firmly, "Are you registered to vote?". Don't wait for people to see you or talk to you. I've talked to many people who do voter registration and they say that a loud but polite voice when looking someone in the eye makes all the difference.
  • Ironing board (optional). Setting up an ironing board can create the perception of a strong presence. Attach a large paper sign with duct tape saying something like "Register to Vote Here!". Some organizations (stores, etc.) may want you to ask permission before setting up somewhere. If you are consistently respectful and non-partisan, most places are very friendly about voter registration.

In most states, you can waltz into a post office and pick up voter registration forms. If you want forms in bulk, the process is different for each state. If in doubt, contact the local political party that you support and ask them how to get voter registration forms for your voter registration project.

Or, use the National Voter Registration Form. You can register to vote in any state in the U.S. except for Wyoming and New Hampshire. Print the form, which is in PDF format, add a stamp, and then mail it. You can mail multiple forms to one state in one envelope with the appropriate postage. The actual form is only 2 pages long, but the PDF has 30 pages with instructions and state-specific details. Here are frequently asked questions about the national form.

Some state forms have advantages over the national form. First of all, you can get them easily free at the post office. Secondly, some states (California, for instance) have a checkbox to always send an absentee ballot so you can vote from home. Absentee ballots statistically increase actual voting because many people are busy, or they forget to vote, or they have a family or work crisis on election day.

So, if you are registering mainly local people, just pick up a stack of state forms at your local USPS post office instead of using the national form. The national registration form is perfect for large events or conventions that draw tourists or other out-of-state folks.

There are legal implications of voter registration that you should know about. At the minimum, carefully read the rules on each voter registration form. For instance, you may need to sign somewhere that says that you helped fill out the form and that you will submit it to the appropriate places within a certain number of days.

You are also bound by other laws, for instance that you can't throw away or alter someone's registration form, and that you have to submit it or register people even if they hold different beliefs than you do. We're not lawyers, so research this on your own or contact voter registration organizations (see below) for more information.

Voter registration deadlines vary by state. For instance, Californians must register 15 days before elections. You can also check voter registration deadlines for other states.

Where To Register Others

Register where people gather. Concerts, malls, Walmart, conventions, music festivals, flea markets, supermarkets, conferences, parties, and other social events.

Register people stuck in lines. Movies, ticket windows, concerts. For the next few months, keep an eye out for where people are stuck in lines. Start at the front of the line and work back, not vice versa.

Register your own "community". Integrate voter registration into your social group, non-profit organization, or church. Although you cannot support or oppose a candidate or party when involved with a church, you can do non-partisan voter registration. Talk to your organization for details about how you can make it happen. Here's more information about church involvement.

Register your friends and family. You can be an effective advocate for voting and voter registration without telling friends and family how to vote. Get the word out and create more voter registration enthusiasts. Feel free to forward the URL to this Web page that you are reading.

Be Loud About Voter Registration

Be creative and get the word out among your friends and family. Can you get some visibility among your friends, at your job, in your social group, or some other organization about the importance of voter registration and voting? Perhaps forward the URL to the voter registration Web page that you are reading right now.

Support Voter Registration Organizations

Volunteer with or donate money to organizations that register voters. Many organizations that do this are non-partisan and some are non-profits. Of course, some have a political end-goal of a party or candidate, and you can get involved with those too. If in doubt about how best to support a candidate or party, contact that local political party or candidate office and ask them how you can help. They will be more than happy to tell you how to get involved in voter registration projects related to their mission. Some non-partisan non-profit organizations that register voters and encourage voting...

This site, Particip8.org, is non-partisan, so I'm not going to list any of the many organizations that are strongly biased towards or against a party. But if you want to support such organizations, they are easy to find. Just search online for your political party and your city name, and you will find what you want. For instance, if you lived in San Francisco and wanted to help the XYZ political party, go to Google and type the phrase...

     "XYZ party" "San Francisco"

Call them on the phone and ask how you can help do voter registration with them.

You can also research "advocacy organizations" that support or oppose specific policies, legislation, or candidates. Many advocacy organizations have targeted voter registration drives and can tell you how you to support their mission. Ask your friends about political and advocacy organizations that they support.

Ask organizations that you support about how to help voter registration in "swing states" or "battleground states", which are U.S. states that are particularly important in the upcoming Presidential race. However, any voter registration in any state is a good thing.