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REPORT: Nonprofits Prove Formidable Force in Fostering More Representative Electorate

Nonprofit VOTE’s “Engaging New Voters” report documents the work of 122 nonprofits that engaged nearly 40,000 people.

Young, voters of color more likely to show up at polls after being contacted by a nonprofit organization

In a year where the entire country wants to ensure that voters are represented at the polls in the midterm elections, Nonprofit VOTE has been focusing on how to engage one of the hardest parts of the electorate to reach: young people.

In an updated version of their “Engaging New Voters” report, Nonprofit VOTE explains how over 120 nonprofit service providers across nine different states demonstrated their ability to get thousands of young people registered and into the voting booth through nonpartisan engagement. North Carolina-based voting rights group, Democracy North Carolina, is an ongoing partner in the project.

The most effective tool, it seems, is one of the oldest: face-to-face communication from a trusted messenger. “Young voters and voters of color are caught in a vicious feedback loop that often leaves them without a voice,” says Brian Miller, Executive Director at Nonprofit VOTE. “Because political campaigns have limited resources and time, they focus their communications on ‘likely’ voters meaning young people get only a fraction of the communication other voters get. And without that outreach, young, potential voters don’t show up on Election Day and the whole cycle starts over again.”

“[This effort] affords us an opportunity to provide fair and equitable access to the ballot for vulnerable and marginalized communities.” –Cheryl Ellis, Special Programs Manager, Democracy North Carolina

That’s where nonprofits with deep roots in the communities they serve can come in. Through nonpartisan voter engagement, they can provide a critical missing voice to get young people, and the communities they serve broadly, more engaged. The “Engaging New Voters,” produced with the assistance of Grassroots Solutions, report documents the work of 122 nonprofits that engaged nearly 40,000 people. Through registration drives and voter engagement events aimed at the communities served by these nonprofits, Nonprofit VOTE reports their outreach not only connected a younger, more diverse electorate but significantly INCREASED their chances of going to the polls.

Beginning with a demographic snapshot, the report shows that young voters contacted by nonprofits were twice as likely to be Latino and 1.6 times likely to be Black, communities often overlooked and left out of our political debates.

More importantly, the report shows that turnout among the young voters contacted by nonprofits was 5.7 percentage points HIGHER than one would have expected based upon the voting of young registered voters in the study area. And these results were seen across race and gender with young women showing the biggest gain of 6.5 points.

Nonprofits across the country are using the reports findings as they prepare for what will surely be an active year in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections. Cheryl Ellis, Special Program Manager at Democracy North Carolina, says the report “affords us an opportunity to provide fair and equitable access to the ballot for vulnerable and marginalized communities and has become a salient part of our organization with integration into our field program.”

Emily Shamsid-Deen, Community Engagement Manager from Community Resource Center has said, “There are many benefits to service providers doing voter engagement work with their communities from strengthening their organization’s influence with decision makers to helping to lift up conversations in the community around important issues to helping to make voter engagement more accessible to marginalized communities.”

The full report is available online at nonprofitvote.org/engaging_new_voters.

MEDIA CONTACTS: 

James Hill, Associate Director of Communications and Partnerships
O: 202-609-8968, james@nonprofitvote.org
Brian Miller, Executive Director
O: 617-357-8683, x115, bmiller@nonprofitvote.org