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A CORE OF VOTER REGISTRATION AGENTS ARE REINVENTING THEIR IDENTITY

At one time it was thought that online voter registration could eliminate the need for Voter Registration Agents. But New Mexico Voter Registration Agents (VRAs) see a valuable way to continue to register voters and provide information needed for voting. After all, VRAs are certified and trained to legally assist voters to register. They literally build voter participation and are creating a more knowledgeable electorate.

A study of VRAs in 2015 conducted in partnership with then Bernalillo County Clerk, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, revealed that 75% of respondents were never contacted by a government body, campaign candidate or political party after the 2012 national election. Consequently, VRAs were not encouraged to continue voter registration nor were their efforts recognized as important.  In an era when trust in government can’t be taken for granted, VRAs should be recognized for helping build trust in government. Future elections should certainly include VRAs as a key component.

New Knowledge & Skills

The recent survey of voter registration agents after the fall 2018 election revealed a core of VRAs who intend on continuing to register and inform voters – See Chart 1 below.

VRA interest in increasing knowledge and skills furthermore reflected a desire to use not only already existing resources but additional formats capable of refreshing knowledge and skills. Most notably VRAs suggested a desire for an online refresher course.

The online training format is common in higher education and online corporate training. This could be an excellent way to make VRA refreshers easy in rural areas where lengthy travel to county seats is necessary. While many VRAs preferred online refreshers on demand, almost 20% were interested in an online “live” format popular in online corporate webinars.

While the digital world dominates much of voter registration activities, the VRAs gave the heartiest green light to a print resource. They wanted an easy to read election flyer near election time which could be handed out while canvassing or at high volume traffic spots in the community.

Final Thoughts

The 2018 midterm election saw a significant increase in voter participation.  There are still millions of unregistered voters in America and, while the actual number varies daily, there may be as many as 200,000 unregistered potential voters left in New Mexico.

A core of VRAs are ready to move forward by increasing their knowledge and skills. They are preparing to find and register the unregistered and provide information that voters need to cast a ballot. While 2018 saw a rise VRA and voter engagement on a variety of compelling issues, losing candidates from the midterm election might agree with the quip from a notable Chicago Mayor, who said that the reason he lost was “Not enough votes.” VRAs are preparing to increase the size of the electorate regardless of party affiliation, or location and they consider voting a key part of government. If you want more voters, find VRAs in your area.

  Resources for Voter Registration Agents  
  1. Coverage of proposed legislation in the current NM legislative session
  2. Notice of voter registration drives and other events, including County Clerk trainings for certification as a NM Voter Registration Agent
  3. Tips focused on what’s working for New Mexico VRAs
  4. Sign up to get news and new resources (if you are not a VRA, you may not see new info.)
  5. Get the current Secretary of State VRA training guide -> https://bit.ly/2TUUVt6 or copy this link http://www.sos.state.nm.us/uploads/FileLinks/bf074f1ff3d84dc2a72a17af29e00f10/VRA_Manual_2018_8_23_18.pdf

This is the 2nd of a series on New Mexico Voter Registration Agents. The role of VRAs is changing and New Mexico Voter Group is focused on helping to make new resources easily available to all who want to make our elections transparent and easier for all.

We hope you’ll share your ideas about how to create additional support for Voter Registration Agents.  If you would like more information or would like to become a VRA yourself, be sure and leave us a comment or drop us an email at info@nmvotergroup.org.

 

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