The San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters knew the 2008 election would be record breaking, so it partnered with community organizations to increase voter registration and awareness of its vote-by-mail program.
The County's electronic voting system was decertified in late 2007, and the Registrar had a short time to educate voters about the procedure and promote voting by mail.
Cook & Schmid helped the County plan “Vote by Mail: Voting Made Easy,” and the firm researched voting habits at the start of the campaign.
“There were certain patterns that emerged in the research about distrust of the system and misinformation,” says Jon Schmid, partner at Cook & Schmid. “Some people think that their vote won't count if they're voting by mail.” The education and outreach campaign sought to dispel those myths by reaching the public through trusted means.
“We were able to distribute [information] to community-based groups such as the Kiwanis Club... and senior centers,” says Kari Verjil, registrar of voters for San Bernardino County. Schmid emphasized that these groups helped with success because the public was “getting information from somebody they already knew.”
The effort also had a “Votemobile” traveling around the county (pictured). In addition, the team arranged for opinion pieces in several local newspapers and had a Web site, where voters could register to vote by mail.
“Overall voter registration increased by 10% from our February election to November,” Verjil says. The effort also significantly increased vote-by-mail registrations.
Verjil says the County will continue with voter outreach in upcoming elections. “I am hoping to keep the communication open with our voters in the future,” she says.
PR team: San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters (San Bernardino, CA) and Cook & Schmid (San Diego)
Campaign: Vote by Mail: Voting Made Easy
Duration: August-November 2008