How to Encourage Someone to Vote

by Nicole Vulcan

If you're already a registered voter who participates regularly in local, state and national elections, it might be hard for you to imagine that people choose not to vote. But the Center for Voting and Democracy notes that in national elections, only about 60 percent of eligible people vote during presidential election years -- and only about 40 percent vote in non-presidential election years. Local elections tend to have an even lower turnout. To encourage someone to vote, you may have to take several steps to see success.

Why They're Not Voting

To encourage someone to vote, you have to discover why he's not voting now, suggests the University of Kansas' Work Group for Community Health and Development,.and counteract those reasons. Ask the person directly what reasons he has for not voting.

Make an Argument

Provide the nonvoter with information about why her vote is important. Research from Stanford University indicates that people are more likely to vote if they're reminded of their personal accountability and when they see the act of voting as something that's part of their identity.

Help with Barriers

If registering is an issue, provide the person with a computer or a voter card and help her fill it out. If getting to the polls is the issue, offer the person a ride, or find one through a voter initiative in your area. After all, "feeling obliged to comply with a social norm is indeed a powerful force," wrote Yale political scientist Donald Green, in an article published by the American Psychological Association.

On a Larger Scale

Yale University's Institution for Social and Policy Studies maintains a Get Out the Vote initiative that details some of the most successful methods for getting large groups of people to vote. According to the institution's website, the more successful methods are those that involve personal contact. That might include door-to-door canvassing or phone calls ahead of the election. Those calls, however, should be focused on how the voter plans to get to the polls and instead of focusing on a canned telephone script, according to a voter turnout study from Stanford University.

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