Some organizations are turning to sophisticated data mining, direct mail, the Internet and other strategies to register voters typically underrepresented on the rolls, including young people and ethnic minorities. Others are simply targeting those who favor their political goals, such as conservative Christians. The shift away from more traditional voter registration drives – like volunteers with clipboards in front of a supermarket – is driven as much by restrictive state laws as it is better technology. Several states including Florida have recently passed legislation setting tight deadlines for groups to turn in voter applications, so groups like the NAACP were looking for ways to get the applications directly into the hands of voters. And they also have to rely on voters to turn in the applications themselves. “This is a new effort since the 2000 election,” said University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith. “Technology has made it more cost-effective. … When you have upwards of 40 percent of eligible populations not registered, there is a market for this kind of work.”
Florida is a particularly important area for the groups, as it is the largest swing state in the presidential election. Other battleground states on the center’s list include Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. The increased focus on direct mail and data mining comes as the campaigns themselves increasingly use online data to raise money and persuade voters. The campaigns of both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have spent hundreds of thousands on digital strategies. And Romney’s campaign began a secretive data-mining project this summer to sift through Americans’ personal information – including their purchasing history and church attendance – to identify new and likely wealthy donors.
The new Florida law set a 48-hour deadline for turning in applications once they are completed and various registration and reporting requirements. Organizations or individuals could be fined $50 for every late form up to a maximum of $1,000 in a given year. A judge has since blocked that part of the law from taking effect, though Smith said that until then it did have a chilling effect on new voter registrations.
Full Article: AP News: Voter registration drives adopting new methods.