Census Legacies Toolkit
Integrated Voter Engagement
Successful democracies depend on engaged and informed voters. Access to the current elections laws and regulations can become burdensome for voters to seek. This decreases voter turnout because they feel uninformed to make an informed decision. Research has shown that historically undercounted committees are traditionally also under-represented in politics because political candidates and parties focus their efforts engaging highly visible voters. Even though voting in the 2020 presidential election broke records, nearly 80 million eligible Americans did not cast a vote. Various barriers related to voter registration, voter education, and turnout prevent eligible voters from getting their voices heard. In addition, investments in voter engagement tend to operate in boom-and-bust cycles of every 4 years, as communities often remain disengaged in between major elections. Integrated Voter Engagement is a promising framework of engaging eligible voters between election cycles in ways that ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency in voter engagement operations in important election cycles.
How is integrated voter engagement proceeding right now?
A common problem with voter engagement is that it usually occurs only during an election season, and it is orchestrated heavily by party leaders. Therefore, voters are only receiving partisan voting information during these outreach efforts. Research has shown that nonpartisan integrated voter engagement is one of the most effective methods to increase turnout. Voters are less likely to receive voter information from nonpartisan voices who build trust and legitimacy in the community. The Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation has researched and identified three areas in which integrated voter engagement is currently being pursued:
Increasing registration: Integrated voter engagement or IVE organizations work to expand registration numbers by working throughout the year by advocating for new policies such as: same day registration, preregistration of 16 and 17 year olds, and online registration.
Increasing education: Another main goal is to educate voters and decrease election anxiety. This can include campaigns strategically designed to engage with underrepresented communities, providing both education on elections and their voting rights.
Increasing transparency: IVE also works to decrease voter intimidation that may keep certain community members away from the polls.
Utilizing Census Coalitions & Tables
Integrated voter engagement is a proven strategy that increases voter registration and turnout for marginalized communities, however what is less proven is the specific mechanisms that make it work. Census coalitions have the opportunity to innovate by providing new methods of engagement that they developed during the Census count. Incorporating IVE initiatives into coalitions can harness voter power to create positive change. These initiatives can build issue salience and build leaders to help voters make the connection between voting, representation, and various issue priorities.
Important First Steps
Voter education. IVE campaigns are focused on informing voters about candidates for office and other propositions on the ballot. An important first step is investing time and energy into the development of smart and engaged voters who are excited to participate in civic activities.
Strategic voter registration. Devising a strategic voter registrations plan is an effective first step coalitions can take to remain active in their communities. Taking the knowledge and skills used during the Census count to transform the political landscape through increased voter registrations. The benefit of coalitions are their ability to engage in this work outside of election season and without party influence.
Going beyond the vote. IVE includes engagement beyond election season. To participate in efforts such as leadership development and redistricting, IVE can ensure that these projects are plausible by increasing community awareness, visibility and trust.
For more on Integrated Voter Engagement, we encourage community partners to consult resources available at the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation.