How to Find & Mobilize Young Voters I: Voter Registration

Originally posted on

Rock The Vote

Registration is the best get-out-the-vote tactic around: in 2004, 82% of registered 18-29 year olds voted. (18)

If you’re in a tight race and need a way to create more votes, register young adults. It’s cost-effective and it works.

• Online, you can register a new young voter for $2-10 per registration application. (19)
• By direct mail, you can generate a new registration application for $5-7 per person. (20)
• In person – on campus and at events – volunteers can generate new registrations at very little cost and paid staff can for $8-15 per registration.(21)
• Bonus tip: Registration builds lists. By registering voters you can ID new supporters and collect contact info that will be crucial to running persuasion, education, or GOTV efforts.

The rule of thumb for voter registration is to go where young people spend their time – at home, at school, online, or in communities – and ask them to register to vote.

Online (22)
More than 80% of 18-29 year olds are online regularly. With a few simple techniques you can register large numbers of young adults online for relatively little cost. Here are a few ways to do this:

Your first step should be to put Rock the Vote’s online voter registration tool on your website, blog, and social network pages. It’s free and easy. You can sign up for your own “widget” at www. and start registering voters online right away.

The best news – you collect the contact information of anyone who uses the widget to register to vote on your website – an instant GOTV or volunteer outreach list.

Tips for online registration:

Promote It: Promoting registration on your site is key – email your lists, place the “Register to Vote” button in a prominent location, post voter registration updates and deadlines in your “Latest News” section or on your blog, or challenge your friends and colleagues to a registration contest.

Timing Matters: Promote registration prominently on your website as deadlines approach.

Make it Visible: Put the button on your front page or blog, and regularly promote it in your “Latest News” section so that visitors are reminded to register.

Reminders: Email your list as deadlines approach and plug registration on your website when doing TV or radio or speaking at events. Make sure to include a “Register your Friends” link.

High-Traffic Sites: The online voter registration tool can also be posted to blogs, MySpace profiles, and Facebook fan pages. If you have these (and you should), put the widget up there and message your “friends” as deadlines approach.

Millions of young voters spend a lot of time on social networks – MySpace, Facebook, MiGente, BlackPlanet and more. Make sure to set up a profile on the key networks – ask your young staff and volunteers which ones (or contact Rock the Vote) – and designate one of those younger staff members to make sure the site is constantly updated and integrated with your campaign’s overall online organizing strategy.

Post a link to your website’s voter registration from all of these sites (or put a widget on there, too) and make sure your profile or page is highlighting upcoming registration deadlines, campaign events, and more.

(18) U.S. census Bureau, current Population Survey, Voting and Registration Supplement November 2004.
(19) Rock the Vote online registration test results.
(20) Results from Rock the Vote re-registration direct mail experiments, 2007-2008, conducted by MShc Partners.
(21) Estimates based on field experiences of youth vote organizations. cost depends on staff wages.
(22) “Winning Young Voters – New Media tactics I,” forthcoming from Rock the Vote, spring 2008.
(23) “Winning Young Voters – New Media tactics I,” forthcoming from Rock the Vote, spring 2008.
(24) Ibid
(25) Ibid

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