The O’Connor House and its partners are launching the Great Voter Challenge to increase voter registration by 10 percent across Arizona.
According to the organization Nonprofit VOTE, Arizona ranked 45th in the nation in overall voter participation during the 2012 elections. About 53 percent of eligible Arizonans voted in 2012. Minnesota had the highest voter participation rate at 76 percent.
O’Connor House President and CEO Sarah Suggs said the initiative targets people who may not otherwise know how and where to register.
“It’s not the likely voters we’re worried about,” she said. “We know that the likely voters, by rain, sleet, snow or 120 degrees, will vote. It’s the unlikely voters – those voters that may not be as determined to vote – that we need to remind that our democracy is only as good as the ability of all citizens to be engaged.”
Suggs said the organization plans to reach voters through a primarily digital strategy by placing links to register to vote in public library computers and working with a variety of partners to direct potential voters to www.voteaz.net. The website, which is a section of the main O’Connor House site, contains information on voter registration deadlines, election dates and how residents can encourage others to vote.
O’Connor House has also partnered with local businesses and organizations to help spread the word. For instance, several Harkins Theatres are playing ads encouraging voter registration before movies.
The O’Connor House is also working with the Public Relations Society of America to promote the challenge in the media via the PR Serving America program.
Suggs said the initiative has yielded some results but that there is still work to be done.
“There has been an increase in voter registration by one percent already, which we’re very encouraged by. But the general election in November is our deadline and so we’re making a big push.”
According to Suggs, “voting is the least we can do.”
“What is the excuse not to register to vote?” Suggs said. “You can register online. If you don’t have a computer, go to your library. You can order a ballot by mail that will come to your house, fill it out at home and send it back with no postage required. There really is no excuse not to vote.”
The deadline to register to vote in the August 26 primary is July 28, while the deadline to register to vote for the general election is Oct. 6. The general election will be held Nov. 4.