Future Vote Initiative

A year-round program to engage students in elections, as well as their families and teachers

Recruiting young people to be election workers is a real challenge. They often don’t have control over their transportation. Plus, in most cases, they’re not even eligible to vote!

However, young people have a lot to offer to the field of election administration. In particular, they tend to be tech savvy and, in some instances, multilingual. Their involvement has many positive implications for your election office. These include:

  • Preventing provisional ballots
  • Improving the flow of voter traffic at polling places
  • Increasing voter education and community outreach through family and teacher connections

The intent of the Future Vote Initiative (FVI), based in Montgomery County, Maryland, is to increase current and future voter knowledge as well as strengthen ties related to civic participation for youth and families. This is accomplished through year-round outreach, training, and community involvement that emphasizes the importance of participatory democracy.

These support materials will help your election office launch a year-round program that educates young people grades 6-12 about the voting process, along with their families and teachers.

What you'll need

  • 1 dedicated staff member, either full-time or part-time
  • Spreadsheet to organize participants or a custom database module for your voter registration database
  • Specialized training curriculum for Election Day
  • Calendar of civic activities for students throughout the year
  • Outreach materials including sign-up forms

Table of contents

  1. Define your program goals
  2. Outline program activities and incentives
  3. Draft program materials
  4. Build and maintain local partnerships

Define your program goals

Start by defining your election office’s internal goals for the program. Along with other election office staff and leadership, document what you hope to accomplish through the Future Vote Initiative (FVI). To get started, consider the following questions. Remember to include target numbers and dates for accomplishing each defined benchmark:

  • How many schools do you hope to recruit as program partners?
  • How many teachers need to be involved?
  • How many students do you want to sign up?
  • What age groups are you aiming for?
  • How many family members and teachers of students do you want to register to vote or update their registration information?
  • How will you measure the success of your program based on participation rates of students?
  • If you have a FVI point system for the students, what’s the “A+” score? What’s a B, C, D score?

You are not locked into these initial goals. You will reassess your FVI goals after you launch the program to determine if you need to make adjustments. This is just a starting point to get everyone in the office aligned with the same goals and message.
By clearly defining your program goals from the beginning, you will be able to effectively communicate with your community as you begin to do outreach and recruitment. And the goals will also help you share FVI success stories with the local media, on your website and through social media, and at government meetings and conferences.

Outline program activities and incentives

FVI is more than just recruiting and training young people to work on Election Day. It’s a year-round program that involves your election office staff, middle school and high school students, their teachers, and their family members.

It’s critical that you outline the structure of your program so all participants understand their roles and they have a clear idea of what to expect when they join FVI.

FVI is not a babysitting service. Be sure to communicate the responsibilities of parents/guardians clearly when students participate in all FVI activities.

Huddle up with your election staff and leadership to brainstorm office activities and community events that FVI students can join. For example, you can recruit students to:

  • Help with voter registration drives
  • Organize election office supplies
  • Sort election office mail
  • Demonstrate voting equipment at assisted living facilities
  • Speak in public spaces, including county and city government meetings

After your office determines the activities and dates for the year, assign FVI point values to each activity. Depending on the activity, like working on Election Day, you may need to break it down into hourly shifts.

Below are some questions to prompt the overall development of your FVI program.

Election Day activities

  • Will you assign FVI students to work every primary, election, and run-off?
  • What will the length of the shifts be and how will FVI points be assigned?
  • What will the student election worker roles be?
    • Greeter – welcome voters at the polling place and point them to the correct station
    • Roving assistant – keep voting booths clean of campaign materials and assist voters (seating, equipment, language) if asked
    • Exit monitor – collect all voting materials (privacy sleeves, pens) and recruit new election workers with sign-up form
    • Other
  • How will their training curriculum be different from the standard election worker training curriculum?
    • 1 hour instead of 2 hours
    • Parent/guardian is required to attend
    • Overview of how elections work and options for voting
    • Review roles and responsibilities of each E-day position
    • Dedicated time to register or update registration of student’s parent/guardian
    • Student oath, which is different than standard election worker oath

Year-round activities

  • What other activities can FVI students join?
    • Helping with voter registration drives
    • Organizing election office supplies
    • Sorting election office mail
    • Demonstrating voting equipment
    • Speaking at public events, including county and city government meetings

Incentives

  • How will you allocate FVI points to students?
    • Number of activities they participate in
    • Number of adults in their family who register to vote or update their registration
  • How will the students be recognized for their participation?
    • Certificate
    • Annual awards ceremony
  • Will any students be paid?

Similar to the process of defining your program goals, outlining your program activities and incentives will allow you to clearly communicate to your staff and other stakeholders what everyone can expect to happen.

The activities and incentives of your program may change over time and that’s okay. Perhaps the number of activities throughout the year was insufficient and you need to add more. Maybe the point system needs to be tweaked. The initial structure is a launching point — not a final destination.

Draft program materials

While FVI supports the mission of your election office by providing more workers for Election Day and other civic events, there must be an incentive for young people to get involved if you expect them to sign up and participate.

Imagine being in the student’s position when you design your program activities and collateral materials. Think about what might motivate them to be join FVI. And remember that you are recruiting a wide age range, from 6th grade to 12th grade. Below are possibilities for student motivation.

  • Extra credit in civics class
  • Real-life work experience
  • Community service points
  • College application material
  • Competing with friends who are involved in FVI/social pressure

In addition, you must provide an authorization form for the parent/guardian and also a form for the teacher/administrator.

Outreach material for students:

Materials for parent/guardian:

Materials for teacher/administrator:

Questions about the FVI templates? Want them in another format? Email us at hello@electiontools.org.

Build and maintain local partnerships

Parents, guardians, teachers, and school administrators all have an interest in seeing their young people develop into civic-minded members of the community. By building a coalition of these local stakeholders you will bolster the strength of FVI.

Start by creating a list of all the schools – private, public, religious, and home school networks – in your jurisdiction. Then identify lead contacts at each school and gather their contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses.

Next, put together a communication strategy to introduce yourself and your program to each of your school contacts. This includes a call and email script along with the option to meet in-person. Remember to highlight your program activities and incentives when you are recruiting.

After contact, you may want to create a listserv or online group to manage communication among your new program partners.

Table of contents

  1. Organize FVI data
  2. Develop training curriculum
  3. Evaluate and document progress

FVI is a program that goes beyond Election Day to engage young people and their families in the community. While additional helping hands at polling places can be awesome, creating year-round opportunities for young people to gain more experience with local government is what makes FVI such a valuable program.

Always listen and look for positive feedback from your local stakeholders regarding FVI. Maintain a folder or online document where you can keep these stories and refer to them when you need to evaluate your impact.

You will collect loads of information from participants throughout the life of the program. This is especially true if you have students who join FVI when they are in the 6th grade and stay committed until they graduate from high school. Set yourself up for success by organizing your FVI data from the get-go.

Organize FVI data

Collecting, storing, and updating your students’ information is a core administrative duty of FVI. You’ll need a system to keep all of your data organized and in one place. We recommend beginning with a spreadsheet. If your FVI grows to over 500 participants, you will want to research the possibility of adding a new module to your voter registration system so you can more easily manage your FVI data.

Here’s a sample FVI data spreadsheet template to get you started:

Develop a training curriculum

You don’t have to start from scratch when developing your training curriculum for FVI. You can remix and reuse your standard election worker training materials. However, because their roles on Election Day will be different, your training class for student election workers will need to vary slightly from the standard election worker training class.

FVI training is mandatory for both the student and their parent/guardian. We recommend limiting the length of the training class to 1 hour.

Begin developing your curriculum by determining the roles and responsibilities of your student election workers. For example, we drafted 3 FVI positions for Election Day:

  • Greeter – welcome voters at the polling place and point them to the correct station
  • Roving assistant – keep voting booths clean of campaign materials and assist voters (seating, equipment, language) if asked
  • Exit monitor – collect all voting materials (privacy sleeves, pens) and recruit new election workers with sign-up form

Then, we recommend structuring your FVI training class into four 15-minute sections:

  1. Overview of the election process in your state (early voting, voting by mail, voting on Election Day, type of voting equipment)
  2. Review of roles and responsibilities on Election Day (Greeter, Roving assistant, Exit monitor)
  3. Importance of family members and teachers being registered to vote/having up-to-date records
  4. Questions, review of incentives, and oath

6th – 12th  graders will attend your training. Be sure to create curricula that speak to their learning experiences. You may decide to organize training classes based on age group.

Evaluate and document progress

After one year of administering FVI, you will need to evaluate the effectiveness of your program. This is a prime opportunity to document your progress, which you can share with the local media or at your next government meeting or state conference.

Again, recognizing that you will eventually need to evaluate FVI is why we encourage your office to spend time establishing framework at the onset of your program. Below is an example of core components that you can evaluate as frequently as you like.

  • Goals: Are you reaching your goals for FVI participation? If not, why not?
  • Activities: Are students signing up for all of the activities on the calendar? What activities are most popular? Why? What can be eliminated? What should be added?
  • Incentives: How are students, teachers, parents, and guardians responding to the incentives? Does the FVI point system need to be tweaked?
  • Outreach materials: Do the outreach materials meet your needs? Should the forms be updated to include a new FVI activity or Election Day role? How can the usability of the forms be improved?
  • Training curriculum: What performance feedback did you get from voters and election workers where the FVI students were assigned to work on Election Day? Should the length of the training be changed?
  • Data management: Is the data easy to manage with a spreadsheet? Is there a better way to collect and store FVI data?

Based on your program evaluation, you and your election office will be prepared to make adjustments and continue nurturing the Future Vote Initiative.