States turn to agencies to boost voter turnout

CARSON CITY, NV: The office of Nevada's secretary of state is on the hunt for a firm to launch a non-partisan voter-registration and education campaign for the 2012 election.

CARSON CITY, NV: The office of Nevada's secretary of state is on the hunt for a firm to launch a non-partisan voter-registration and education campaign for the 2012 election.

The state has noticed a drop in registered voters from the 2008 election, from 1.45 million to 1.36 million as of this May, according to the RFP. State officials hope the campaign will increase voter registration by October 16, the deadline for the November election. The effort will focus on explaining the requirements for registering to vote, according to the RFP.

The initiative will combine paid and free multimedia and internet resources, including PSAs. The videos will target groups with lower voting rates, such as college students, young adults, overseas residents, military members, foreclosure victims, voters with disabilities, and state residents of various ethnicities. The campaign may create some materials in both English and Spanish.

There is no incumbent for the contract, said Catherine Lu, a press officer for Nevada's secretary of state. She declined to comment further on the RFP.

The short-term contract will run from August to October, and it has a budget of $800,000. The deadline for applying to the RFP is July 12, and the state expects to make a decision by July 20.

Meanwhile, South Carolina has retained Chernoff Newman to run its election awareness campaign. The firm has worked with the state since 2004. Its new contact is valued at more than $100,000.

South Carolina re-upped with Chernoff instead of a competitor because of its familiarity with the state's expectations.

“Their experience with elections goes back to 2004, and that gave them an edge over others,” said Chris Whitmire, director of public information and training at the South Carolina state election commission. “There was a knowledge gap, and that came across in the proposals.”

This time around, Chernoff plans to put greater emphasis on social media as part of its outreach, said Emily Brady, manager of public affairs at the firm.

“The election committee wants to make sure there are several opportunities for engagement,” Brady said.

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