Page Gardner, Founder & President of the Voter Participation Center


I'm Jim Taylor skinner. And this is the electorate on this episode. I have a conversation with page Gardner. The founder and president of the voter participation center the Voter Participation Center has helped over four point. Six million voters register and get to the polls and page card was a pioneer and identifying key voting bloc. She was one of the first to recognize unmarried. Women as a key political population one with significant and impactful political power. He's Gardner and I discussed what's called the marriage gap. That's the gap between unmarried women and married women in relation to their registration habits and voting behaviors. We also discussed this in the context of the corona virus outbreak. Given that unmarried women generally have less financial stability when compared to married women so without further. Ado here's my conversation with page partner Gardiner. Welcome to the PODCAST. Thank you very much great to be here so I was looking at your numbers. And since two thousand and three voter participation center you've helped around four and a half million voters registered to vote and get to the polls which is a massive amount of people millions and millions of people. And that's that's really incredibly impressive. But I'm just curious you know two thousand three. It feels like a lifetime ago and it wasn't but it feels like a lifetime ago and I don't think that voter suppression or voter issues for mainstream. Then what encouraged you to get into those costs to become interested in you know registering voters? So it's interesting that you bring that up. We have helped over point. Six million people applied to be registered to vote and hundreds of millions of people. Turn out but just sort of tripping down memory lane in two thousand I looked at the election of Gore versus Bush and noticed the difference between married and unmarried women in terms of how they voted and their share of the electorate and unmarried women. Married women voted very very differently with unmarried women voting for Gore in married women voting for Bush and I wondered about that and the share of the electorate of unmarried women was really really small in terms of their strength in numbers in terms of the voting eligible population. So that leads to lots and lots of research and the key question was was this sort of a just an observation or was there causality in marital status in other words does marital status determine whether or not you register and whether or not you vote. And after years of research and looking at things like articles from Census Bureau scholars to doing our own research it turns out that marital status along with age and race are key determinants of whether or not you register and whether or not you vote so then. The question became if unmarried. Women are unregistered and higher numbers than they should be. How do you reach them? So then what we did at the voter. Participation Center was pioneer mail based voter registration targeting particular demographic all across the country and that was really a revolutionary. We created for the first time the first list of unregistered people in this country. Because as you know no state keeps a list of its unregistered citizens so we had to create a list of unregistered unmarried women. Nail THEM VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION. And then make sure that voter registration application got sent to the appropriate elections official. We did that after a number of years. And then it turned out that this process was successful with other underrepresented demographics persons of Color and young people. So that is how our program's evolved to include what we call the rising American electric which is unmarried women persons of Color and young people who are now sixty four percent of the entire voting eligible population in the country today. More than a hundred and fifty million people yet. They're underrepresented in terms of their registration rates. And they do not vote and they are not as large as share in. The electorate would suggest that they could be while. That's incredible actually had no idea that before voter participation that there was no way or no one was tracking unregistered voters. And now I'm curious. How did you do that? How did you track now? Who was not registered? Well after many many years and what we have done is refined a system where we match a voter file from state to a list of commercial data and then we delete the names of people or addresses that do not appear on the voter file and then we go through about twenty five other steps to insure the quality of the data. And after having done that we then mail out a voter registration application form that then. The person fills out and sends back to the appropriate election. Official

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