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People vote because of values they hold and see in others, and because they feel they're part of a larger cause and community.

Here are few new things we learned from our partners and passionate democracy advocates:
1. From our friends and colleagues’ research at the Center for Civic Design, what motivates people to show up and vote is that:

  • They realize that if they don’t show up, someone else is making decisions about things that affect them.
  • If there’s something important happening, something that will directly affect their own life or the lives of close family and friends, it’s worth making the investment in time and energy and get to the polls.

2. From our friends at Quinnipiac University’s School of Communications who collaborated with their reputed Polling Institute, we learned what issues matter differently to different segments of the population:

  • Here is recent data report on issues that matter to voters. Credit: This Midterm Election Guide is a collaboration between Courtney Marchese, Associate Professor of Graphic + Interactive Design and student Christina Popik, BA candidate ’19, Graphic + Interactive Design, Quinnipiac University. The project will help launch Quinnipiac’s first-ever formal voter engagement initiative on campus this fall.

Friendly reminder:  Don’t hesitate to use simple positive language such as “Use your voice,” “Reach out,” or “Show up.” But do consider designing for diversity and accessibility to reach the widest audiences including, but not limited to, new voters in 2018, i.e., youth and newly naturalized citizens, people who have been historically disenfranchised of their rights to vote, minorities such as Latino, AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders), veterans, formerly incarcerated individuals, people with disabilities, and audiences who do not speak English.

We’ve broken the information into key themes, and provided links to the source material below.

Reasons to register

Most states require you to register or update your registration when one of the following happens:

  • You turn 18 by Election Day (or prior to that if your state allows 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register)

  • You’re a newly naturalized citizen

  • You move, even if just across town

  • You change your name

  • You haven’t voted in a while, in which case your registration may have expired due to inactivity

Find state-by-state information here from Nonprofit VOTE

Millions of eligible voters remain unregistered

  • Nearly 5 million eligible voters couldn’t vote due to registration problems (United States Election Project)

  • 23 million people move across state lines every four years. In those four years, 19 million people turn 18 and another 3 million become naturalized citizens. That means 45 million people must update their registration every four years. (Nonprofit Vote, based on Census data)

  • There were almost twice as many unregistered but eligible voters in 2016 as there are people living California. census.gov

  • 67 million total eligible voters are unregistered census.gov

  • Approximately 12.7 million records nationwide appear to be out of date and no longer reflect the voter’s current information. Pew

  • About 12 million records with incorrect addresses, indicating that either the voters have moved, or that errors in the information on file make it unlikely the Postal Service can reach them. Pew.

  • Between now and 2020, roughly 27 million people could move meaning they may not have updated their registration. census.gov

  • 3.7 million people who moved within less than a year had registration problems census.gov



Uncontacted voters

Younger voters and people of color are generally less likely to be contacted by a campaign about registering or voting ahead of the election.


  • 62% of unregistered voters say they were never asked to register.  Pew, Figure 1

See also  Pew

  • 61% of registered voters say they have never been asked to register.  Pew, Figure 1  See also Pew

  • 64% of Latinos report having not been contacted about registering to vote ahead of the 2016 election.  Latino Decisions Election Eve Poll

  • 57% of Asian American report having not been contacted about registering to vote ahead of the 2016 election.  Asian American Election Eve Poll

  • Less than 20 percent of eligible citizens have been offered the chance to register at a motor vehicle or other government agency. Pew



Voting/registration confusion

  • 36% of eligible voters forgot/missed registration deadline Pew

  • A month out from voting, 40% of young people (18-29) are unsure about 30 day registration, photo IDs and early voting laws. (http://civicyouth.org/knowledge-about-voter-laws-still-lacking/?cat_id=17)

  • 77% of unregistered voters feel they don’t understand how govt works, 69% feel their votes wouldn’t affect the govt Pew

  • While online voter registration makes the process easier, half of people do not know whether their state has online registration or not, and 18% gave the wrong answer entirely in a recent poll Democracy Fund

  • 46% of people either did not know or said “no” when asked if they need to update their registration after an across-town move. Democracy Fund

  • 23% erroneously thought that they did not need to re-register after an out-of-state move.  Democracy Fund




  • State registration deadlines vary. 18 states require you to register or update your registration 28 to 30 days in advance with no alternative option close to the election. See full list of deadlines at Vote.org

  • The nation’s felony disenfranchisement laws barred over 4.7 million Americans living in their communities from voting in 2016’s election because of a past felony conviction. Brennan Center

  • Latinos were over four times more likely than whites and over six times more likely than African Americans to be without a photo ID. CivicYouth

38 states now offer online voter registration through a secure portal- Brennan - but voters in non-online states must still travel to a DMV, elections office, etc., or request a form by mail.