The National Association of Realtors has ended a massive, national voter registration drive with an estimated 345,000 voters added to the rolls, association spokesmen said this week.
When the drive was announced last February, the association said that its goal was to sign up 3 million new voters by this month by having each of its 600,000 members register five family members, friends and clients to vote. Under a banner slogan of "Five for Freedom," Realtor spokesmen said in February that the 3 million goal was a priority.
"That was an overall optimum," Realtor spokesman William Adkinson said this week. But he said the association is nevertheless pleased with the lower results, adding, "Each voter is important to the whole."
When the drive was announced, Realtor spokesmen scoffed at the suggestion that Realtors were registering their families in an attempt to have a larger, more powerful voting block behind them when lobbying on Capitol Hill. This week, Adkinson reiterated that the seven-month-long voter drive was designed as a purely civic activity.
"We also hold a blood drive every August," Adkinson said. "This drive is another way for Realtors to get involved in the community, to do some good. Many organizations were out registering voters this year in a spirit of civic-mindedness."
Adkinson said the association reached the 345,000-voter estimate by canvassing some of the 1,800 local chapters and then averaging in the remainder.
"It's in no way a precise figure," he said. "It is not based on complete reports, but a random sampling."
Although the drive was launched at the national association level, he said that each of the 1,800 local chapters designed its own community drive using voting literature and pamphlets from the parent association. Adkinson said that some of the local chapters have held voter registration drives for years and that other locals, such as the District of Columbia chapter, did not participate in the drive because members felt they did not have enough time.
Adkinson also estimated that few of the 345,000 new voters are Realtors themselves.
"I'm certain a large percentage of Realtors were registered already since politics means so much to our business," he said. "I would imagine the new voters are for the most part family members of Realtors and neighbors, although there is no way to know for sure since we did not keep track of that data."
No special funds were used to launch the drive, Adkinson said, explaining that the voting literature was prepared at the national association headquarters here in Washington with regular operating funds.
In all, the voter drive seemed to have started with a bang and ended on a quiet note. "There are no formal plans to continue the drive into the coming years," Adkinson said. "If local [Realtors] are interested in that, then, of course, they are encouraged to do so."