The Pink Bunnies made big leaps this election season, registering a whopping 10,000 Montanans to vote, according to the Forward Montana Foundation.
That was the goal, and the army of costumed volunteers that worked more than 250 “bunny shifts” around the Big Sky State are pressing on with registrations despite laying claim Friday to pulling off the “largest nonpartisan voter registration drive in Montana history.”
The Missoulian couldn’t immediately confirm that the monster count also represents a record, but folks in Missoula only have to walk downtown on a Saturday to confirm the Pink Bunnies are famous here – and ubiquitous at the farmers markets. They’re folks wearing pink shirts and bunny ears who register people to vote. They have been since 2007, and they do so with bipartisan support.
Here’s former Democratic Congressman Pat Williams in a news release about the milestone: “Forward Montana Foundation has become the leading voter registration group in Montana ... and they are also the most fun.”
Here’s former Republican state Sen. John Brueggeman on the bunnies: “The Pink Bunnies make voting more accessible. That is democracy at its best ... I think it is fantastic that Forward Montana Foundation took on such a huge task and completely killed it. It makes me want to wear a bunny suit.”
And yes, Brueggeman indeed has worn a bunny suit, confirmed Forward Montana Chief Executive Officer Andrea Marcoccio. And she said Mayor John Engen stands ready and willing to don the costume, too. Williams’ willingness to dress in the voter registration uniform was unclear at press time.
In the drive, Pink Bunnies registered people from all 56 counties and canvassed in Missoula, Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman, Billings, Dillon, Butte and Kalispell. The 10,000 cards represent 1 percent of Montana’s population and 1.5 percent of all registered voters in Montana, according to Forward Montana’s analysis of 2010 census data and numbers from the Montana secretary of state.
“After interacting with thousands upon thousands of young voters from across the state, we are excited to see a major impact out of our demographic this cycle,” Marcoccio said in the news release by Forward Montana, which has a mission to create civically engaged youth.
So far in Missoula County, 80,224 people are registered to vote, said Vickie Zeier, elections administrator. And that number doesn’t include a couple of hundred of registration cards the county still needs to process.
“Always in a presidential election year, we get the highest volume of voter registration cards,” Zeier said.
In 2008, some 80,566 people were registered in the county, and Zeier anticipates this year’s count to surpass the one four years ago. The “regular” voter registration deadline is Oct. 9, and late registration begins after that date.
Zeier encouraged people to check their voter registration on myvoterpage.mt.gov as soon as possible to be sure their information is correct and current. For more information – and links to the secretary of state’s site – go to missoulavotes.com.
The website offers comprehensive voting information, including pertinent dates. It also has a flow chart of “voter scenarios,” which describe what to do if you are registered, not registered, have changed your address in the last two years, want an absentee ballot, or are a military or overseas voter; look under “forms” for “voter scenarios.”
For more information on upcoming local drives by Forward Montana, go to forwardmontana.org.
Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at @KeilaSzpaller, 523-5262, firstname.lastname@example.org or on MissoulaRedTape.com.