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National Voter Registration Day Gearing Up, Online and Offline

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, September 24 2012

Over 1,000 organizations have come together to set up an unprecedented online and offline effort on September 25th to do for voter registration what Earth Day did for environmental activism with National Voter Registration Day.

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Education Fund, Bus Federation Civic Fund, Fair Elections Legal Network, League of Women Voters, Nonprofit Vote, and Voto Latino worked together to coordinate events, social media outreach and raise awareness about voter registration on that date. Personal Democracy Media is also participating through a partnership with Fight For the Future, which has launched an Internet Votes effort.

"The idea idea is to establish a holiday for people to participate in the democratic process," said Dan McSwain, vice president of digital campaigns for Voto Latino, invoking the Earth Day example. "This is the first time that anything like this has happened on this scale." With some sort of election race happening every year, the hope is that the date becomes an opportunity "to remember every year that registering to vote is essential."

The date at the end of September was selected because it is before state deadlines begin in October. The goal is that participating organizations follow up with people who begin the registration process during the October deadlines to encourage them to complete their registrations. "In 2008, at least six million people didn't register to vote because they didn't realize that their state's deadline had passed," McSwain said.

On-the-ground events are planned in almost all fifty states with participants ranging from advocacy groups to Patagonia, an outdoor camping retailer. In addition to being listed on the website, organizers have also partnered with Tumblr to list events through the social network's Meetups platform.

All participants are being encouraged to promote the effort widely on social media channels and the hashtag #925NVRD.

On the morning of the 25th, a Google Hangout is planned featuring Gabe Saporta, the lead singer of the band Cobra Starship. A Twitter chat featuring Craig Newmark, Rosario Dawson, Good Magazine, the League of Women Voters and the Fem2.0 blogging network is also scheduled.

Mashable reported earlier that Headcount.org, a New York voter-registration organization, was working with over 100 celebrities to promote voter registration messages over social media channels. On its Facebook page, Headcount is already featuring photos of celebrities like Stephen Colbert, 50 Cent and Dave Matthews holding a voter registration clipboard.

High profile supporters like actress Rosario Dawson are also expected to make TV appearances, while organizers are also hoping for exposure in local media outlets.

Turbovote is also officially providing its voter registration service to the effort, McSwain said, and has integrated with those states, like California, that are offering online voter registration.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen tweeted last week that 19,222 people used California's online voter registration application system in its first two days of operation.

The National Association of Secretaries of State voted in the summer to officially declare September 25 National Voter Registration Day.

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