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07/30/2018 | Strengthening Voting Rights and Democracy

New Toolkit Details How Cities and Counties Can Expand Voter Registration

In July, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) released a new policy toolkit, “Expanding Voter Registration in Cities and Counties: A Toolkit for Local Policymakers.” The toolkit accompanies CPD’s previously-released report, “Deepening Democracy: How Localities Can Expand Voting Rights” and offers resources and materials to assist city and county policymakers in developing and advancing policy reforms that will expand voter registration in their jurisdictions. The report and toolkit highlight opportunities for local jurisdictions to fight back against more than a decade of attacks on voting rights and democratic participation, which have undermined core principles of representative democracy and eroded the political participation of ordinary citizens and the Rising American Electorate.

In this political moment, protecting our democracy and strengthening the political power of communities of color, immigrants, and residents with low incomes must be a local imperative. The newly-released toolkit lifts up policies that expand voter registration at city or county agencies as a way to counter the attacks on voting rights and expand access to voters, particularly in states that have been hostile to broadening voter participation. With this policy reform, designated local agencies offer eligible voters the opportunity to register to vote when applying for other services—for example, through agencies that provide human and social services, affordable housing, and health programs, among others. Local agencies are strategic places to expand voter registration because they administer services, utilities, benefits, and programs that serve local residents, and disproportionately reach low-income communities and communities of color—who are under-registered to vote compared to their wealthy and white counterparts.

The policy toolkit consists of two parts:

  • A model local agency voter registration ordinance, which provides local jurisdictions with model policy language and highlights key areas where local elected officials can tailor the policy to fit the unique context of their jurisdiction.

  • Communications materials, to help local elected officials and advocates communicate effectively about the importance of agency-based voter registration.

Community members, advocates, and ordinary citizens can urge local elected officials to use this toolkit and implement local voter registration policies. By passing these policies, we can pave the way for meaningful policy change in 2018 and beyond. For more information, read “Deepening Democracy: How Localities Can Expand Voting Rights,” and access the toolkit here.