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Voter registration

Expanding the pool of eligible voters in

low-income communities & subsidized properties

Voter Registration Tools and Templates

Tips for Voter Registration
Eight pointers to get started on voter registration initiatives
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Partners & Resources for Voter Registration
Other organizations to support your efforts
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Best Practices for Registering Low-Income Renters
Overcoming apathy and skepticism to encourage registration
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Fillable Voter Pledge Card
Leave newly registered voters with a reminder of their commitment to vote

National Voter Registration Day

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National Voter Registration Day is a national, nonpartisan Civic Holiday dedicated to raising awareness of voter registration opportunities and celebrating our democracy. Since the holiday was first celebrated in 2012, more than five million voters have registered on this date. National Voter Registration Day creates a prime opportunity to activate and promote voter registration in your community.

To learn more about National Voter Registration Day, visit

Voter Registration 101


Before You Start

Before your organization begins to register voters, you will want to prepare in several ways:

1. Set Goals

Setting goals for both registration and mobilization can be an important part of your plan. The staff and volunteers involved in the project will have something to work towards, and you will have a way to evaluate your project after the election. The plan provides a framework for setting these goals.

2. Get to Know Your Local Board of Elections

Your local Board of Elections can be a wealth of information as you plan to register low-income renters to vote. You will want to check in with them to learn the registration deadline for the general election in your state. Ask whether anyone can register voters in your state, or whether a person must first become deputized or meet other requirements. Request the voter rolls for your community, so you will know who in your target audience is already registered. Learn about identification requirements for registration and voting. Request enough voter registration forms to meet your registration goals. In many places, the role of the Board of Elections will be conducted out of the office of the County or City Clerk. Please contact NLIHC if you need help determining who the best local authority is for your organization.

3. Offer Registration Trainings

Residents and staff who plan to register voters will often benefit from receiving training on the process. You may want to bring in someone from the local Board of Elections who can explain the state’s registration requirements and how voter registration forms must be filled out. It can also help to spend a bit of time role-playing so that people who are registering voters are not discouraged when confronted with apathy. It is also helpful to practice voter registration updates for renters who have recently moved.

4. Consider Resources

Whether simple or more involved, all voter engagement projects will involve some investment of resources. Once you know what you would like to accomplish, you should consider potential funding sources for your project, and how you might work with other organizations to maximize resources.

Other organizations may have resources that your organization can access. Student groups may be interested in registering voters as part of a community service project, or a civic group may already be providing rides to the polls and could include your clients in its plans. Remember to partner only with nonpartisan organizations.

Registering Voters

Once you know the voting guidelines for your state and have set registration goals for your agency, you are ready to begin registering voters. As described in the sample plan, there are four ways to approach voter registration.

1. Fit Voter Registration into Your Agency’s Regular Contact with Residents

The first option is to incorporate registration into day-to-day activities that already take place at your agency. Registration can usually be incorporated with few resources and little hassle into the intake process, training sessions, resident association meetings, and any other meetings of clients.

2. Plan Specific Voter Registration Activities

A second way to think about registration at your agency is to plan special registration activities or campaigns. Many organizations have had success holding social or other events at which residents are encouraged to register to vote. Consider hosting an event for National Voter Registration Day.

3. Organize a Door-To-Door Campaign

The third, and most effective, way for larger organizations to systematically register clients is through a door-to-door campaign. If your agency is a housing provider or a resident council, such a campaign can be especially effective. In particular, resident leaders can volunteer to receive training and serve as ‘building captains’ or ‘floor captains.’ Captains can take on responsibility for registering, keeping registration records, and then turning out all of the people in their building or on their floor, etc. Such a system can be a great way to get residents or clients involved while ensuring that staff does not become overwhelmed with additional responsibilities. The key is to have personal and organized contact with potential voters by people they know or trust. Especially in this type of campaign, you will want to use the voter list from your county to see who in your buildings is already registered or whose registration needs updating. Voter lists may cost a small fee, but they are essential for tracking who is already registered.

4. Go Into the Community

Finally, especially if you have a smaller membership or client base, you may also want to think about having your volunteers reach out into the community to register other low-income renters, people experiencing homelessness, or members of other underrepresented groups. Consider staffing voter registration and information tables at community events. Farmers' markets, block parties, and other festivities also provide occasions to offer voter registration. Also, make sure to promote your voter registration efforts through your website and other social media platforms. And do not forget to make sure everyone on the staff and board is registered!

Keeping Records

It is crucial to have a plan for how you will keep a record of who you have registered to vote—as well as who is already registered—so that you will be able to contact these people as part of your mobilization activities. You will be able to compile a list of which of your residents are already registered from the voter rolls you acquire from your local Board of Elections.

1. Collect Information

For new registrants, there are two ways to collect this information. One easy way, if allowed by the laws in your state, is to collect voter registration forms from new registrants, then photocopy the forms before mailing them in. (Note: Some states require forms to be returned within a specific number of days after they have been completed.) This also allows you to review and catch mistakes before a form is submitted. You may also ask registrants to fill out two-part pledge cards. They will keep the half of the card that reminds them of their pledge to vote; you will keep the half with their contact information.

2. Enter the Information into a Database

Once you have collected voters’ information, it is important to enter it into a database so the data can be easily accessed for mobilization purposes.

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