WASHINGTON-With many primaries going on right now and elections just around the bend in November, credit union groups are working to bolster voter turn out. CUNA unveiled a new Web tool last week to encourage more Americans to vote, while NAFCU reminded members of the online voter registration feature on its Web site. From cuna.helpingamericansvote.org, registered voters can fill out their ballot online, print it out and send it to the appropriate place, according to CUNA Political Director Karen Kincer. This `Get Out the Vote’ effort is designed to clear up the congestion that polling places on Election Day while, at the same time, encouraging more people to vote. CUNA, of course, will be targeting state league and credit union employees, as well as credit union members. Kincer pointed out that 10% of Americans say they are out of town on Election Day and another 20% are simply too busy to wait in line to vote. “Folks are so busy and have so much going on, they just don’t have the time to get out and vote,” Kincer said. CUNA is working with Helping Americans Vote, a non-partisan Washington, D.C. firm, which also provides similar products for organizations like the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Home Builders, Boeing, and Kodak. General Manager of Edelman Public Affairs Brian Lundy, who came up with the idea for the system, pointed out that the old absentee ballot voting system has given way to the `no excuse early voting system,’ Most states do not even require the voter to be absent on Election Day and average about an 18 day voting window. Helping Americans Vote eventually became a freestanding organization with CEO Bob Babbage. “It’s the only system where all 50 secretaries of State have signed off on what we’re offering people,” Lundy said. Not only does it offer the appropriate absentee ballot forms and information, it also explains how to vote by mail, where to send it, and how to vote early in person, for example. Lundy explained voters are consumers and the store cannot be open for just one day. In Colorado, he said, residents can vote at their Safeway grocery stores. Lundy said there were 105 million voters in the 2000 elections and Helping Americans Vote is aiming to reach 60 million registered voters this election. He described CUNA as the “Cadillac” of users because “CUNA has the biggest potential of anybody using the service.” He characterized CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose “as a pioneer in grassroots tactics.” “Anything we do to encourage more credit union members to be active in the political process is important for CUNA and credit unions,” Kincer said. She added that the system will be available for the primaries in the future. CUNA can use the system to track usage of cuna.helpingamericansvote.org and also get back a list of who has used the system and warn them when the deadline is nearing. CUNA will be advertising the new capability through its News Watch newsletter and News Now Web site, as well as incorporating it into the association’s general Get Out the Vote artwork, which should be available shortly, Kincer said. Additionally, in the last year, NAFCU added a tool to its Web site to allow people to register to vote online, where states allow it, or it can be printed out and mailed in. Eligible voters can register under NAFCU’s Contact Congress page, according to NAFCU Senior Legislative Representative Murray Chanow, which also provides the latest information about presidential candidates and their district’s congressional candidates. “We obviously try to keep as fresh information as we can at all times,” he said. Users can search the site by their zip code and use the “Browse Candidates” page to look up candidates Web sites. It also offers sample letters for NAFCU members and others to send in when a key credit union issue is coming up before Congress. “I would imagine that more people voting means more credit union people voting,” Chanow said. That in turn means more politically active NAFCU members, which is always important, particularly at the local level, he said. “Our members really seem to like our Web site. We always try to push people to it.” Chanow added. He said the site is powered by CapWhiz software. [email protected]

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