Service Nation Day of Action Diary: Voter Registration

Can you feel the energy of service humming all around you? It might be the 2,720 + service projects happening across the 50 states today! Find one here!

I’m registering voters in my neighborhood in North Portland with a coalition of organizations including the Bus Project, NAACP, Urban League and AmeriCorps Alums Oregon.

Follow BeTheChangeInc on Twitter for more news as it happens at the Boston Day of Action event.

Register so you can vote on Nov. 4th!

Read Alan Khazei’s opinion piece in the Huffington Post on service.

Read the fabulous Kate Doyle’s Day of Action News Roundup.

What I learned from my volunteer experience: Registering voters is hard! I didn’t go door to door but stayed in the “downtown” areas of my neighborhood and that may have had an impact — I met a woman who registered far more people by going door-to-door. As with any state you have to get your registration in by a certain date, too — see the list of deadlines around the country.

Updating your registration after you move is crucial. In Oregon, for example, everyone votes by mail. (Your ballot won’t get to you if your address isn’t updated.)

Throughout the United States, under-represented on election day are people who are more mobile — like young people and people who rent apartments. The state of Ohio sparked controversy this summer when the media circulated a story that people who had lost their homes because of foreclosure would be ineligible to vote this fall due to change of address.

The Pew Center on the States puts it this way: “Participation data reveal clear patterns about who is most likely to vote and who isn’t. If you are old, white, educated and strongly rooted in your community, you are more likely to vote. If you are young, non-white, less educated and move frequently, you are less likely to vote.”

Another obstacle to 100 percent voter turnout can be requiring identification at the polling station, which apparently disenfranchise specific populations more than others.

Some tips I learned for registering voters include:

  • Familiarize yourself with the registration form for your state
  • Find out the registration deadline for your state
  • Know whether you can register others to vote in your state, and the deadline for turning in the registration forms you gather
  • Know who is eligible to vote in your state (what age?; also what about formerly incarcerated people?)
  • Pick a place with lots of foot traffic (you may have to ask permission)
  • Have a few clip boards and pens on hand
  • Approach groups (the voters among them can help pressure the nonvoters)
  • Stay nonpartisan
  • Ask everyone you see (don’t presume to know who is already registered by they way they dress, or by age), be friendly
  • Start by saying something like I’m registering voters today so they know you don’t need signatures on a petition

Here are some other tips for registering others to vote.

Join The League of Women Voters’ Registration Challenge. (You don’t have to be a woman.)

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Dr. Oz’s Day of Zumba Action

Dr. Oz on Oprah

Dr. Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show

Yeah, I know, this isn’t a competition.

But I challenge anyone to come up with a more imaginative, more entertaining way to highlight the national service movement and health issues than a zumba Latin dance-off for diabetes.

That’s how Dr. Mehmet Oz—heart surgeon, author, frequent Oprah guest, and HealthCorps founder—is participating in the Day of Action, Sept. 27. In doing so, he will join over 2,500 other community service projects taking place all over the United States as part of Service Nation, the campaign for more citizen service and community activism.

Dr. Oz will lead a zumba Latin dance demonstration of his own with over 200 participants as part of the American Diabetes Association‘s Diabetes Expo at the Javits Center in Manhattan. The effort aims to highlight the impact of national service and HealthCorps’s commitment to fighting diabetes and childhood obesity.

Dr. Oz says, “We can’t remedy our country’s health crisis by legislating solutions. I created HealthCorps to send volunteers to our nation’s high schools to mentor their adopted brothers and sisters. They’re making health cool and hip. Besides eating smart and exercising wisely, they’re teaching mental resilience and addressing underserved communities.”

HealthCorps is a school-based peer mentoring and community outreach program that deploys recent college graduates to empower teens to become educated consumers and health activists.

HealthCorps seeks to expand its 45-school program to serve more states, develop even more of an emphasis on consumer education, and encourage all Americans to prioritize prevention and personal responsibility.

HealthCorps members typically go on to attend medical school or engage in other public health careers.

Dr. Oz fans will be glad to hear that in September 2009 he’s set to host “The Dr. Oz Show,” a syndicated talk show produced by Oprah’s Harpo Productions.

In a week, communities all over the United States will answer the call to serve on Service Nation’s Day of Action, Sept. 27th. Idealist.org staff are organizing our first-ever Youth Action Fair in New York.

Find a project to participate in, in your community.

But…what is zumba? This is the shortest (and cutest) demo I could find on Youtube:

Watch Dr. Oz speak (not dance) during the Day of Action event:

Here is the Zumba class that took place that day: