How-to Guide: Registering Voters

How to maximize your success
before, during and after your voter registration event
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Safety and COVID 19: please follow City of Chicago Guidelines

BEFORE: Prep for your voter registration drive

Planning the Voter Registration Drive:

  • Pick a place, date and time for your registration event. You want someplace with a good stream of steady traffic, not a huge crowd.

  • Build your team.

  • Make sure to give all your volunteers the contact information of someone they can reach right before and during the event - in case they get lost or something comes up.

Publicize your event:

  • Post it to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts

  • Notify your team & community with personal phone calls and emails

  • Here's a list of newsletters and social media accounts with large followings, where you can promote your event

Assemble all your supplies:

  • Voter Registration forms - you have to get these from your election authority or download them from your election authority's website. Ask one of the ILVOTE leaders in your area if you need help. Or, visit the Election Jurisdictions page for the website for your jurisdiction.

  • Get clipboards and pens from your local office supply store

  • A lightweight folding table can be a good investment if you plan to do a lot of events! (Although some event sponsors will provide tables for you)

  • Signage and swag - see our Starter Kit for ideas. You can also order from us at discounted prices. Or just make signs by hand!!

  • If using online tool such as bring tablets (ensure strong and reliable wi-fi)


Set up your table area:

  • Ask volunteers to meet a half-hour early to help

  • Lay out your tablecloth or banner; decorate it with some buttons

  • Hang or post signage

  • Set up your clipboards with a few blank forms and a pen

      • some volunteers like to highlight in yellow the boxes on the form that a voter has to fill out

  • Arrange your flyers so they look nice

  • Take some pictures!!

Train and energize your team:

  • Encourage everyone to introduce themselves and have fun while you're setting up

  • Foster a team atmosphere - consider setting a goal for the day, remind everyone why we're doing this.

  • Run through some of the best practices for engaging voters. Ask your experienced volunteers to share their favorite tactics.

  • Remind everyone to stay non-partisan. That includes not wearing anything that favors any political candidate or party. (Issues are non-partisan; use your best judgment on wearing that Medicare For All or Build The Wall button)

  • If you expect more than just a handful of volunteers, consider a sign-up sheet so you can keep track of everyone's names and contact information.

NOTE: Volunteers do not have to be Deputy Voter Registrars (and neither do you!). Just make sure to use the Motor Voter Form (Form 275) and you're all set!

Maximize your success:

  • Double-check the registration forms!!!!! Voters often forget to fill out:

      • the first 3 questions - citizen, age, purpose

      • their ID number - either driver's license, state ID or last 4 of their social

      • date of birth and gender

      • their signature!!!

  • When they hand back their form tell them what's going to happen next:

      • One of us is going to deliver your form to the Board of Elections later this week.

      • You can expect to receive your voter registration card in the mail soon

      • "I'll reach out to you personally in a few weeks to make sure you got your voter registration card - is that OK?" This gives you permission to keep their information, and to follow up with them.

  • Don't stay tethered to your table - walk around and talk to people!

  • Starting with "Hi!" and a smile increases the response rate by at least 50%

  • Ask everyone - don't pre-judge

  • Questions that get attention:

      • "Hi! Are you registered at your current address?"

      • "Hi! Have you moved since the last time you voted?"

      • "Hi! When are you planning to vote next?"

  • Remember to stay on a non-partisan message - don't promote any party or candidates

Maintain a positive attitude:

  • Set appropriate expectations. Unless you're at a high school or naturalization ceremony, you probably won't get more than 1-2 new registrants per hour

  • Don't waste time convincing the unconvinceable

  • Don't get discouraged if a few people are surly or unfriendly - their mood isn't about you!!

  • Have fun with your fellow volunteers!

  • If you can, take pictures of each other talking to voters. Those " #ILVOTE " signs are great for this!! (available in our Starter Kit)

Finish strong:

  • Treat those voter registration forms like gold - when you're done, carefully collect and count them all

  • Make sure to completely clean up your area after you take down your table

  • Thank all the volunteers (and the event sponsor who invited you, if there is one). Announce the next event and sign people up for it.

  • Be excited. End on a high note! CELEBRATE!


Data & results:

  • Create a spreadsheet and data-enter all the voters you registered. (assuming you asked them if you could, see above)

  • Edit your pictures and post them to all your socials, tagging your volunteers

  • Get those voter registration forms turned in right away!

Communication with your volunteers:

  • Send out an email thanking everyone for coming

  • Include the pictures! Also links to where you posted them on social

  • Encourage them to sign up for the next event, and to invite their friends