GET LOUD ARKANSAS: Former Sen. Joyce Elliott (right) poses at a voter outreach project. Get Loud Arkansas

Get Loud Arkansas, former state Sen. Joyce Elliott’s organization that gets people hyped about voting, scaled up a strategy this year that registered hundreds of new voters — especially young ones.

Arkansas doesn’t accept online voter registration forms, but it does recognize digital signatures on forms. Near the end of 2023, Get Loud Arkansas launched a service where residents can enter their voter information online, then the organization will print and turn in the forms to the state.

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Kristin Foster, deputy director at Get Loud, said the Secretary of State’s office and county clerks are accepting the forms. So far, 358 people have used the system to register to vote in the last few months, 78% of whom were people younger than 20 years old, Foster said.

Get Loud pushed the electronic option at recent school outreach events and had great success. Foster said it was easier to get the younger generation to scan a QR code and fill out the survey-style questions on their cellphones than complete the paper form. Another benefit to the online option is that it alerts users when a category has been filled incorrectly or a box that would render the registration faulty is checked. Selecting the wrong box is a common mistake, Foster said, and people aren’t told their registration was incorrectly completed when it’s turned on the paper form.

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Still, Get Loud supplies plenty of paper copies for anyone who wants them, Foster said.

The team at Get Loud is small, with only two full-time community organizers and three part-time workers. Tackling all of Arkansas can be a challenge with so few people, but Get Loud is focused on tactics that work. Since its inception in December 2021, the organization has facilitated nearly 6,500 registrations.

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It’s not all about getting people registered, either. The team at Get Loud educates Arkansans on how, when and where to vote. Heading to the polls for the first time can be daunting, and Foster said the organization sends out mailed reminders that include information on where to access sample ballots beforehand. Foster said it was important that residents know Get Loud isn’t telling anyone who to vote for, but rather the technical process of how to vote. Information on voter rights is also available in Spanish and Marshallese.

In 2022, Get Loud tracked the results of their mail outreach to a group of about 53,000 people who were either first-time voters or otherwise considered to be low-turnout voters. The group with Get Loud had a 55% turnout rate, compared to the control group that saw a 14% turnout rate.

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Early voting for the primary election in Arkansas is underway, and Foster said Get Loud is working with local organizations to coordinate after-polling surveys. Catching people after they vote is important to learn what hurdles people ran into inside, and what concerns they still have. Foster said Get Loud can use this information to further their pre-voting educational efforts.