Tips For A Successful Voter Registration
In order to be successful in carrying out our mission of renewing the face of the earth, we must be equipped to carry out the most basic act that a citizen can perform – voting. Polling has shown that fewer than 50% of self-identified Christians are registered to vote, and only half of those who are registered actually vote on Election Day. If we are to continue to thrive as a political force in this country, and if we expect our issues to be addressed in the public arena, then we must be capable to turning out in force when the polls are open. Obviously this is impossible if Christians are not registered to vote.
Each State has its own laws about who may register and vote. All States require that you be a United States citizen by birth or naturalization to register to vote in federal and State elections. Federal law makes it illegal to falsely claim U.S. citizenship to register to vote in any federal, State, or local election. Moreover, you cannot be registered to vote in more than one place at a time.
It should be noted that if a person has moved, gotten married, or has failed to participate in past elections, their state law may require them to register again.
Voter Registration Sunday is a non-partisan voter registration effort conducted in churches all across our country. To make it a success, it is vital that your church participates and ensures that all its members are registered to vote.
In anticipation of conducting a Voter Registration drive in your church, or in other churches, you should first gain the pastor’s approval. After you’ve done that, follow the steps as listed below.
Place an announcement in your church bulletin several Sundays in advance. If your church has an announcement board or video screen, use this method as well. Whatever needs to be done for your church to be aware of Voter Registration Sunday should be done.
Have the pastor make an announcement from the pulpit that Sunday as well. If a layperson or other staff member makes the announcement, it won’t have as much influence. The pastor should mention this during the Mass and give directions as to where the registration table is located.
Voter registration requirements vary from state to state. To find specific information for each state, go to www.priestsforlife.org/states. Registration forms can be obtained from your local voter registration office. You can also check your phone book under voter registration or call your county courthouse for additional information in your state.
Most states accept a
National Voter Registration form, which can be downloaded from the internet. See
www.priestsforlife.org/states for links to the form and the relevant instructions in each state. You can also contact your local voter registration office.
Make sure to get enough copies of the voter registration forms for your church. A good number would be enough for half of your church’s membership. Don’t forget to have several copies of the "sign up sheet" we have prepared on hand as well as plenty of pens to fill out the forms.
Set Up the Table
When setting up your registration table, make sure to place it in an area with heavy traffic. You may want to use multiple locations if there are several exits. If you have posters, hang them behind your table so that people will know why you are there. Spread the registration forms and pens on the table. Information may also be there about the locations of the polling places and the days and times of voting. When doing voter registration, you should only have materials directly related to helping the people register to vote, and not materials related to advocacy of the candidates, parties, or positions.
Work the Table
When working the table, do not sit down. Rather, stand in front of it. Engage people in conversation as they pass, asking them if they are registered to vote. You must be pro-active or nothing will happen.
You want the people at the table to fill out two things.
First is the voter registration form itself. When a person takes a form, have them fill it out immediately at your table. Tell them you will be responsible for taking all completed forms to the voter registration office (or mailing them in if your state so requires).
Second, use the sign-up sheets to get their names, addresses and phone numbers so we can keep them informed on issues as well as upcoming elections. (Note that signing up on these sheets is optional. It is recommended that these sheets be at a separate table.)
If an individual comes up to the table and says (s)he is not sure whether (s)he is already registered to vote, have him/her fill out the registration form.
The Follow Up
After you have collected all the new registration forms with your voter registration office, follow the requirements of your state regarding either mailing or bringing them to the appropriate office of voter registration.
Meanwhile, the sign-up sheets, containing the names and contact information of the newly-registered voters, should be sent to us at Priests for Life, Voter Registration Project, PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314. You should also keep a copy for your local parish, so that you can stay in contact with these individuals, as they may need additional information about opportunities for grassroots activism in the future.
Be sure to send a "thank you" note to the pastor and other leaders in the church who helped make the project possible. Express your appreciation for their help and the importance of the duty of voting. This helps you to build a trusting relationship with your pastor so when you plan your next project or event, you will have access to the members of the church.
We want to see continued progress in an increased turnout among pro-family voters. When citizens are informed and knowledgeable about political issues and candidates, and take their convictions into the voting booth, policies begin to move in the direction of securing fundamental human rights.
The church is the largest target market for potential Christian voters. There are other markets that should be considered. Christian Bookstores, pro-life groups and conventions, and parish organizations are all potential voter registration sites. Get permission to set up a voter registration table at these events.
REPORTING VOTER REGISTRATION THREATS
If you receive reports of any church or pastor being threatened not to participate in voter registration activities, please report those incidents to our national office as soon as possible. Supply the name of the church and/or pastor being threatened and all pertinent contact information and full details of the person or organization that threatened the church.
According to federal law, it is illegal to intimidate, threaten, or coerce anyone, verbally or through correspondence, to prevent them from registering to vote or participating in voter registration activities. This would be a serious threat to our freedom as Americans, and must be dealt with accordingly.
How to Contact Us
If you have any questions about conducting a Voter Registration drive in your church, please visit our website, www.priestsforlife.org/vote, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Priests for Life, Voter Registration Project, PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314.