Together we can close the voter registration gap
June 16, 2020
Lauren Kunis is the program director for National Voter Registration Day, the country’s largest single-day effort to register new voters and give every eligible American the chance to participate in the democratic process.
Many Americans are understandably worried about the impact that the coronavirus pandemic might have on the November election. But what not enough Americans are worried about is the impact that the coronavirus is already having on voter registration efforts across the country.
A report released this week by the Center for Election Innovation & Research found that across 11 states, new voters registered in April 2020 decreased by 70% compared with April 2016. The firm TargetSmart found similarly declining levels of voter registration in its analysis of voter registration levels in March, after just two weeks of social distancing.
At the national level, by our estimates, two million or more new registrations could be lost each month while social distancing measures are in place. According to data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the most common way Americans register to vote is through an interaction at the DMV (45%), and nearly three quarters of registrations happen in-person, including at DMVs and registration drives on campuses, at concerts and more.
But with DMVs shuttered and in-person drives now on hold, with every month that passes, the voter registration backlog is getting bigger and bigger.
So, what can we do about it?
At National Voter Registration Day, we’re organizing our biggest-ever holiday this September 22, 2020. Since 2012, nearly three million voters have registered on the nonpartisan holiday, and we’ll need all hands on deck this year to make up the quickly growing voter registration gap ahead of November.
We invite all organizations and individuals to join us, including those who want to use their vote to make a statement about the type of climate policy they want passed. We’re excited about our new partnership with the Earth Day Network that will incorporate campus partners, faith-based organizing, and more through the Vote Earth campaign.
But first things first: Get registered today if you’re not already! And then think about how you can prepare your community to get #VoteReady this #NationalVoterRegistrationDay. Sign up via our website to receive free organizing materials, training webinars and more. It’s going to take all of us to help get every voting-eligible American registered and ready to participate in our shared democracy.