PA State Dept. boosts voter education efforts

LANCASTER, PA: Pennsylvania's Department of State used the long run-up to the closely watched primary on Tuesday, April 22, to build buzz for its voter-education push that targets minority communities, first-time voters, and older voters.

LANCASTER, PA: Pennsylvania's Department of State used the long run-up to the closely watched primary on Tuesday, April 22, to build buzz for its voter-education push that targets minority communities, first-time voters, and older voters.

The department worked with Harrisburg, PA-based Neiman Group, and its subcontractors the Mendoza Group and BrownPartners, to host events, educate voters, and reach out to the Latino, African-American and Asian-American communities with the Ready, Set, Vote campaign.

"We're really targeting three different demographics: young adults, historically disadvantaged populations, and older voters aged 55 and up," said Leslie Amoros, the director of communications and press secretary for the department.

The various promotions reflect those groups and are developed, she added, from "the cultural cues we were taking from the communities."

For example, a part of the Latino outreach campaign on April 11 in Lancaster included dancing and music. Secretary of State Pedro Cortes emphasized how voting is easy and introduced the "Ási de Facil!" tagline and song created for the effort, which will be played on local radio stations.

The $360,000, one-year voter campaign includes building relationships with media outlets covering the election and voter education events at venues statewide, as well as minority outreach.

New media aspects, such as a new interactive Web site, http://www.votespa.com/, and text messages, were also incorporated into the plan.

Prior to the hotly contested Democratic race, "it was thought Pennsylvania wouldn't really have a voice in the presidential primaries" because the primary was scheduled so late in the year, Amoros noted.

With the size of Pennsylvania, the PR team also faced the challenges of reaching out to the state's rural population. To respond to this, the team developed a rapport with reporters across the state by providing them with weekly statistics about voter registration, as well as offering op-ed pieces written by Cortes.

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