COVID-19 Pandemic Increases Need for Mail-based Voter Registration Programs
By Lala Kumakura
The Voter Participation Center (VPC) and its partner group the Center for Voter Information (CVI), are mailing 373,518 voter registration applications to people in Texas this month as part of their largest-ever campaign to register voters ahead of the historic 2020 election.
More than 6.7 million people who can vote in Texas are not yet registered, according to the “Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2018” supplement to the U.S. Census, and 83% of them are members of the Rising American Electorate: young people, people of color and unmarried women. People in
this group often move between elections and register and vote at lower rates than the rest of the population.
As states implement stay-at- home or shelter-in-place orders and millions of Americans self- isolate because of the coronavi- rus pandemic, mail-based voter registration efforts have never been more important. VPC and CVI run the nation’s largest mail- based voter registration program, and their work is crucial today. VPC and CVI are significantly increasing their efforts during the coronavirus crisis, to ensure that historically disadvantaged communities can exercise their democracy by registering to vote by mail and requesting vote-by- mail ballots online.
“With COVID-19 impacting elections, we cannot take any citizen for granted and must do all we can to increase turnout in this uncertain time. The future of our democracy is at stake,” said Page Gardner, the groups’ Founder and Board Chair. “We have a major opportunity to close the gap on voter registration and make sure the electorate is as representative as the country as a whole. That’s why it’s critical for prospective voters to register and make sure their registrations are up to date.” VPC and CVI mail registration applications to unregistered indi- viduals, along with pre-addressed
envelopes to make it easy to send completed forms directly to local election officials. People who want to register online, have questions about the mailing, or who want to be excluded from future mailings can visit voterparticipation.org.
Since 2004, the organizations have helped register more than 4.6 million voters nationally, including more than 272,941 people who applied to register in Texas. This month, VPC and CVI will be sending nearly 12 million pieces of mail to prospective voters in 22 states.
VPC and CVI are in touch with election officials months ahead of all mailings. The organiza- tions make sample mailings and in-depth information about their programs available online.
Who’s in the Rising American Electorate in Texas? The Rising American Electorate makes up 13.2 million people in Texas meaning this group repre- sents 72% of the state’s voting eligible population. Young people (18 – 38): 7.2 mil- lion people, or 39% of people who can vote. People of color: 8.8 million people, or 48% of people who can vote, including 5.5 million Latinos and 2.4 million African- Americans. Unmarried women: 4.9 million people, or 27% of people who can vote.