Updated: Aug 28
A question we sometimes get from new National Voter Registration Day partners is that they want to help, but they aren't sure what kind of event they should have. So we created this list of past event themes that our NVRD partners have done in their communities. Big events, small events--they've done it all! The options for possible NVRD events are limitless.
1. Food + voting.
This might be the most popular National Voter Registration Day theme we see, and we’re not surprised. Clevelanders have good taste. Last year the Civic Literacy Initiative set up a voting resource table at Lekko Coffee (you’d be surprised how many local businesses love to help with NVRD). Voting-Matters organized an ice cream social and registered people during a senior job fair. OCA Greater Cleveland - Asian Pacific American Advocates provided bubble tea and other refreshments at an event. The year before, OCAGC gave out vouchers for free drinks in an effort to both boost voter registrations and support a small local business. And Cleveland State University Office of Civic Engagement offered pizza to all of the students who walked by their new voter info table.
2. Health + voting.
The connection between good health outcomes and voting has been proven, so it is a no-brainer to give people civic health check-ups while they seek medical services. Asian Services in Action hosted a vaccine clinic while OCA Greater Cleveland registered voters and provided nonpartisan voter education. Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates (NOVA) reached out to MetroHealth and was able to host three NVRD events at three hospitals. Patients and employees were quite curious and had a lot of good questions about voting.
3. Reading + voting.
People who love to read are usually the type of people who like to stay informed about the issues that impact them, so why not have an NVRD event at places where people get books and magazines? NOVA set up a table at CSU’s Main Library where students would see it. Promise of Democracy Foundation registered voters during a book launch for a local author. If you reach out to your local public library or independent bookstore about hosting an NVRD event there, there is a very good chance they will be supportive.
4. Human services + voting.
With the cost of living so high, we all appreciate help when we can get it. So NVRD events where basic human services are provided alongside voter resources are quite popular among our partners. If you choose this option you can get people #VoteReady and make a meaningful difference in their lives. ReNOUNce DeNOUNce Gang Intervention Program did a pop-up event where they passed out food, COVID supplies + tests, backpacks + school supplies, hygiene products, and toiletries. Some other services we’ve seen paired with NVRD include free haircuts and clothing giveaways (graphic tees are always a hit).
5. Music + voting.
NVRD should be a celebration, so music is a great event booster. And that is true whether music is the primary event (e.g. a concert) or will merely be enhancing your event (e.g. having a DJ play in the background). For example, NOVA, Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and OCA Greater Cleveland all hired DJs for some of their events, and Young Latino Network featured live music. Don’t have money for a DJ or professional musician? That’s ok! Just bring your phone and a great speaker.
6. Resources + voting.
Don’t think that just because it’s NVRD that you have to do a flashy event. Plenty of our partners have had simple resource tables set up where people can register to vote and grab some voter info swag while on the go (candy and snacks are also nice touches if you’re allowed to provide them). Resource tables work really well if you are in an area where you can't make a lot of noise, like workplaces, residential areas, and libraries. Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry did a tabling event at their Richard Sering Center, serving staff and community members who entered the building throughout the day. And the YWCA offered voter registration support to the residents of Independence Place and Norma Herr Women's Center.
7. Schools + voting.
High schools, colleges, and universities are excellent sites for hosting your event because they’re full of students who are eligible to vote for the first time. Last year the CSU Office of Civic Engagement partnered with AKA Sorority (Alpha Omega Chapter), NOVA, and the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland and had registration tables stationed all over campus. One of the registration stations even had a mock voting booth set up so that students could see what it’s like to use one. Their setup made it easy for students to register on their way to their classes, dorm room, and lunch. If you want to work with a school, try contacting their main office (if it’s a high school) and office of civic and/or community engagement (if it’s a college).
8. Community events + voting.
If you don’t have it in your budget to throw your own event, we recommend signing up to have a table at one of Cleveland’s many free community events/festivals. One of our partners had a registration table at Fresh Fest Cleveland, while Tremont West Development Corporation registered voters during an annual community festival. You can view upcoming community events here and here. Once you pick one, you will need to reach out to whoever is coordinating the festival and get permission to have a table. In our experience, festival organizers love having voter registration stations!
9. Shopping + voting.
Clevelanders are busy people. So they really appreciate it when we incorporate NVRD events during activities they already plan on doing, like shopping. Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. hosted a voter registration drive in the parking lot of a local supermarket, and St. Clair Superior Development Corporation set up a table outside of a neighborhood drugstore with heavy foot and car traffic. Another idea includes working with a local store to let you register people outside and then they offer a small shopping discount in honor of NVRD for the day. If you have it in your budget, these types of events would also be a great opportunity to hand out NVRD reusable bags (or other voting-themed totes) to help people carry their purchased items.
10. Media outreach + voting.
Media is a great way to get the word out quickly about NVRD. And it’s also a great option if you don’t have a lot of volunteers who could help with an in-person event. In 2022, Towards Employment, Inc ran a social media campaign called "Why I Vote," highlighting quotes and photos of locals with reasons why they make it a point to vote. The campaign also provided a way for people to register online. Other media options include billboards, fliers, radio ads, and YouTube videos. Or you could ask a local influencer to speak about NVRD and the importance of registering. Just be aware that some of them might require payment for this.
11. Nature + voting.
Northeast Ohio has such beautiful parks. And being in nature gives people a nice boost of dopamine. We think that sounds like the ideal scenario for successful voter registration. Outdoor events are also a great opportunity to explain to people how the ballot is one of the best tools we have when it comes to fighting climate change and preserving our nature reserves. When you begin the planning process, it will probably help your efforts if you find a location or event where you know people will already be congregating outdoors. For example, the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park invited Cleveland VOTES to have an NVRD resource table during one of their popular Rhythm on the River festivals. And OCA Greater Cleveland and ASIA hosted an NVRD “Lunchtime Party in the Park” where attendees were greeted with food trucks and games while volunteers answered questions about voting.
Hopefully this list helped you generate some ideas for your National Voter Registration Day event. Once you have a plan, make sure you are signed up as an official NVRD partner on their website. You will also be able to register your event so people can search for it.
Now let's help folks get #VoteReady!