At EveryLibrary California, we want to push libraries to get more politically involved to help libraries win elections. One of the best ways to do that, is to ensure that all of your patrons are registered voters. As part of this effort, we became a partner organization with the National Voter Registration Day Organization to help them promote this important day to libraries. We want to encourage Every Library in California to sign up as a partnered organization and invite volunteers to set up a voter registration booth at your library on September 23 2014.
Signing Up is Easy
You still have time to register as a partnered organization and it’s very easy to do through their website. If you sign up before September 5th, they will provide training and marketing materials for free! You can then use these materials to start planning a voter registration event on National Voter Registration Day on September 23th.
What Will We Have to Do?
We are asking you to sign up as a partnering organization through the website. This is easy to do and requires very little from the library. There are a couple of ways that we are asking you to partner with them and get involved.
Why Is This So Important?
Plan and simply, the more registered library users in your community, the better your chances of winning an election come election time. Imagine if every library user in your community was a registered voter that your ballot committee could engage with and ask to vote for the library? It is also so important that library staff, from pages to directors get familiar and comfortable with the political process. A well-trained and comfortable staff is a huge asset during your library’s election. While it is true that it is illegal for staff to directly engage in the political process during an election, they are still the front line on library advocacy and as such, those staff members are all, in a way, candidates.
Is This Legal?
While it is true that staff can never tell the public that they should vote yes or no on any piece of legislation, especially library ballot measures, they can absolutely encourage members of the public to get registered to vote and give them information about elections. This is called an info-only campaign and completely within the confines of the law.
But We’re Not On the Ballot
Whether or not your library is on the ballot this November, this kind of political advocacy within your community will help you in the years to come. The planning stages before you announce a ballot measure is called surfacing and the more time you take to build your advocates and political supporters before an election, the less work you’ll have to do come election time. So, get started now with National Voter Registration Day!
For More Information
To get more information, the first step for any California library or library system would be to pay a visit to your County VR and Elections Department. There, you can pick up voter registration forms in all three languages, and pick up their official training document. The official training document is called “Guide to Voter Registration.” Typically, forms will not be released to an individual or a librarian until they’ve signed off that they’ve read the official training document or viewed the document on a powerpoint at the Election office. When working with larger library systems, a library administrator can work with the Election office to have forms distributed to multiple branches. If a branch was working independently from the library system on a voter registration drive, a branch representative could get the training and pick of the forms.
Nicole Powell and Derek Wolfgram have put together a helpful list of resources for you that you can use. A link to the Google Drive is here and you are welcome to take what you like.
Here is a link to CLA’s website and their efforts to help libraries get their communities to get out the vote.