Nonprofit VOTE has released a new report that examines the impact nonprofits have when they ask their clients and constituents to register and vote. Engaging New Voters: The Impact of Nonprofit Voter Outreach on Client and Community Turnout is based on an analysis of 129 nonprofits in nine states that conducted voter engagement work in the 2014 election cycle. It makes a strong case that nonprofit service providers and community-based organizations can play a key role in narrowing troubling gaps in voter participation between lower and higher-income earners, younger and older voters, and newer citizens and more established populations.
The findings of the report are compelling. To begin with, nonprofits are very effective at reaching communities overlooked by political campaigns and other partisan groups. Over half the voters engaged by nonprofits were identified prior to the election as “low propensity” voters, i.e. voters not expected to vote in the 2014 midterm, and thus never or rarely contacted by political campaigns about voting. Compared to other registered voters in the same study states, those contacted by nonprofits were three-and-a-half times as likely to have incomes under $25,000, twice as likely to be under 30 years old, and four times a likely to new American voters – Latino and Asian-American.
The second key finding of the report is that once contacted by nonprofit staff and volunteers about voting, these prospective voters turned out at higher rates than other registered voters across all demographic groupings. In one case, intervention by a trusted nonprofit messenger resulted in a 144% increase in turnout among voters with extremely low voter propensity scores (propensity under 25).