Rock the Vote head on evolution of voter registration efforts, and what young voters look for in candidates today
About Heather Smith
During the past two election cycles, Heather Smith has helped Rock the Vote build new tools and refined best practices for the continued engagement of young voters. In 2010, Smith led Rock the Vote in its largest midterm election effort that generated more than 300,000 voter registration applications, engaged thousands of volunteers, and increased youth turnout in targeted precincts. In 2008, Rock the Vote registered a record-shattering 2.2 million people.
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 to provide the general public, political parties, candidates, consultants and nonprofits with data and research on the youth vote as well as best practices to effectively mobilize young people.
In 2004, Smith served as national field director for the Student PIRGs New Voters Project, the largest nonpartisan grassroots effort ever undertaken to register and mobilize young voters. Prior to her work at the New Voters Project, Smith was an organizing director for Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing in Boston. Smith received a B.A. with honors in economics and public policy from Duke University.
In 2006, Smith was named one of Campaign & Elections magazine’s Rising Stars for her work with young voters. She was also named one of Esquire Magazine’s Best and Brightest of 2007.
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Sept. 25 is National Voter Registration Day; why voters 18-29 are a vital voting demographic in this year’s election