2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Beyond Voter Reg: How to Engage the New Citizen

#sxsw #votenow

The process of registering to vote has changed remarkably little in the last 150 years. But everything else has changed?! Thank you internet for changing how we communicate, how we shop, and how we inform.
How do we use this 21st century marvel to simplify and increase participation and engagement in the American democracy though?
Shouldn’t online voter registration be easy in 2014? The American Electorate is growing and changing by leaps and bounds: 12,000 kids turn 18 everyday, and 50-60,000 Latino youth turn 18 years old every month. How do we engage this newly eligible-to-vote population that has only ever lived with the Internet?
We’ll explore some of the challenges RockTheVote and other voter registration groups encountered in the 2012 cycle as well as results from their Online Voter Registration (OVR) tests run with the State Board of Elections in CA, NV, and WA.
Let’s discuss why online voter registration should be the perfect example of a public-private partnership.



Gayatri Bhalla



Gayatri comes to Catalist with a wealth of knowledge from the private sector in Marketing and Business Development as well as in Digital Strategy and Social Media. Gayatri began her career working on Capitol Hill followed by work as a State Organizing Director for the National Association of Securities and Commercial Law Attorneys. In 1997 she joined Vertex Partners/Braun Consulting as a Senior Consultant and then spent four years at Digitas, a Publicis agency, working on complex web development projects for clients including Fleet Bank (now Bank of America), MorganStanley, AT&T, Pfizer, and Federated. In 2005, Gayatri was recruited to be Special Assistant to Chairman, Operations and Strategic Planning for the SEC. In this post she served as the Chairman’s representative on new facilities design project teams including the development and implementation for aligning facilities, technology, and organizational systems with the agency’s strategic themes.

Heather Smith


Rock the Vote

Under Smith's leadership during the past two election cycles, Rock the Vote built new tools and technologies and refined best practices for the continued engagement of young voters, setting the highest voter registration records in both midterm and presidential elections in the organization's 21-year history.
Prior to Rock the Vote, Smith founded and directed Young Voter Strategies, a nonpartisan project in partnership with The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Young Voter Strategies provided the general public, political parties, candidates, consultants and non-profits with data and research on the youth vote as well as best practices to effectively mobilize young people.

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