This study evaluates the potential of nonprofit service providers and community-based organizations to increase voting among their younger clients and constituents, while also assessing best practices for doing so. To do this, we tracked 39,000 individuals who registered to vote or signed a pledge-to-vote card at one of 122 nonprofits across nine states in the lead up to the 2016 elections. The participating nonprofits included a diverse set of community health centers, food pantries, family service agencies, multi-service organizations, community development corporations, and others. This year’s report differs from our 2014 Engaging New Voters report 1 both in its more rigorous methodology as well as its narrow focus on voters under 30 who are the most challenging to engage. We focused our analysis on 5,835 young voters that were successfully matched to the voter file across the study counties. In addition to determining who from a demographic standpoint the nonprofits reached, we used voter files to assess the rate at which those contacted turned out to vote in the November 2016 election as compared to a demographically-similar group of registered voters in the same counties. Throughout this report, we use the term “nonprofit voters” to refer to people who registered to vote or signed a voter pledge card at one of the 122 nonprofits. We use the term “comparable voters” to refer to a demographically-similar group of registered voters from the same counties which we use for comparison (See Methodology for more).
YOUNG PEOPLE ENGAGED BY NONPROFITS WERE
- Half as likely to be White
- 1.6 times as likely to be Black
- 2.1 times as likely to be Latino
COMPARING TURNOUT RATES
- Overall, voter turnout among young nonprofit voters was 5.7 percentage points higher than turnout among other comparable young voters (61.0% vs. 55.4%).
- Turnout was higher among all racial groups engaged by nonprofits, with Latinos showing the largest gain.
- Young Black nonprofit voters turned out at a rate 5.1 percentage points higher than comparable young Black voters (59.9% vs. 54.9%).
- Young Latino nonprofit voters turned out at a rate 6.0 percentage points higher than comparable young Latino voters (52.8% vs. 46.8%).
- Young White nonprofit voters also performed well, turning out at 5.5 percentage points higher than comparable young White voters (71.5% vs. 66.0%).
- Turnout was higher among both men and women engaged by nonprofits.
- Young women engaged at nonprofits turned out at a rate 6.5 percentage points higher than comparable young women (66.7% vs. 60.2%).
- Young men engaged at nonprofits turned out a rate 4.4 percentage points higher than comparable young men (52.3% vs. 47.9%).
- Pledge-to-vote cards were particularly effective.
- Nonprofit voters who signed a pledge-to-vote card turned out to vote at a rate 14.1 percentage points higher than comparable registered voters.
TACTICS AND SUCCESS FACTORS
To assess best practices, we asked the 122 participating nonprofits to fill out an in-depth online survey. We also conducted interviews with several of the higher and lower-performing nonprofits. We then compared the results of the high and low-performing groups to identify factors common to more successful organizations.
- Successful agencies had high levels of support from executive and senior leadership as well as frontline staff. This level of buying into the initiative was seen across the entire organization including intake personnel, program staff, and case managers. They also were more likely to have more than 10 individuals asking people to register.
- High-performing groups started early in voter registration efforts as opposed to later in the electoral cycle. They were more likely to get started in June or July than less successful groups.
- For all respondents, getting their message out in high traffic areas proved successful. Tabling at events or in their own lobby were successful tactics in their efforts.
- National Voter Registration Day participation was also a strong indicator of success with nearly all successful groups participating.
- Successful groups were significantly more likely to provide additional voter engagement services, including providing collateral (voter guides, ballot measure informational sheets, etc.,) in addition to going literal extra miles in providing transportation to the polls.
RETURN TO THE ENGAGING NEW VOTERS MAIN PAGE