Before students can vote, they need to register, so that’s the first step in election engagement.
Below you’ll find some effective approaches for campus voter registration.
ROCK THE VOTE ONLINE REGISTRATION WIDGET
As we move toward 2016 elections and beyond, Rock the Vote (RTV) wants to work with you to deliver this free service to your fans, friends, and community. Start registering voters today – sign up for RTV’s online voter registration tool, embed the widget on your website, promote your customized tool via email and mobile lists and on your social networks, & more. To download RTV's Registration Widget Guide, click here. For next steps to downloading the widget, click here and get ready to register voters!
- www.rockthevote.org [also has voter pledges and sends reminder texts]
- www.turbovote.org [will send free reminder texts and stamped envelopes to mail in registration if your school is a partner]
- www.Voteplz.org [free stamped envelopes to mail in your registration, even if your school isn’t a partner, also reminder texts, though fewer than RTV and Turbovote, and a registration sweepstakes competition to win college scholarships or debt reimbursement ]
- www.vote411.org [League of Women Voters. Doesn’t send reminders, but can register and get comprehensive info on voting rules and locations, plus information on local and state-wide candidates and initiative, complementing those we profile through CEEP's nonpartisan candidate guides]
- For info on voting rules, visit vote411.org, campusvoteproject.org/studentguides, or the downloadable, printable, and forwardable state voting rule posters that Campus Vote Project created with us.
In many states, these have changed rapidly, making student registration and voting more confusing and difficult. Schools can play a critical role in ensuring that every eligible student knows what they need to bring to register and vote, and how and when to do it. In many cases schools can supply approved forms of identification, whether particular types of student ID cards, letters from the President attesting that a student is enrolled, or zero-balance utility bills. Nonprofitvote.Org and vote411.org have state-specific information. Your Campus Compact affiliate may also be creating a website section with information and templates. If your school runs into consistent hurdles trying to help your students register and vote, you can call the 1-866-OURVOTE hotline or visit 866ourvote.org to connect with voting rights experts who can advise you.
- Check out the non-partisan voter registration and Get-out-the-vote toolkit for University/Community created by Virginia Commonwealth University! This guide was developed from a Get-Out-The-Vote effort conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) ASPiRE students and Mosby Court residents. ASPiRE is a living-learning program focused on community engagement. Mosby Court is a public housing development located less than 2 miles from VCU’s academic campus. They developed this guide to encourage schools to develop partnerships with their own nearby public housing developments and with other community nonprofits.
- Northwestern University's Voter Registration Initiative
The NU Votes project began as a student initiative to integrate voter registration at Northwestern University through the student registration process. The initiative gained traction with the coordination and support of the University’s Center for Civic Engagement, and in 2011, incoming freshmen were all given the opportunity to register to vote as part of the process of receiving their student ID for the first time. Students were able to register in any of the 50 states with each state’s mail-in form, and NU Votes staff processed and mailed the completed forms to the appropriate Board of Elections. By the end of orientation week, nearly 90% of incoming freshman at Northwestern University were registered to vote.
In 2012, Northwestern's U Vote Project will be piloting the same integrated voter registration model at several select colleges and universities across the country. If your school is interested in bringing the U Vote model to your campus, contact Rob Donahue at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Create a link on the university homepage to voter registration widgets from Rock the Vote and Student PIRGs.
- Promote this link through campus email listservs and by having it pop up when students register for classes or to order tickets for entertainment or athletic events.
- Download and distribute the National Mail Voter Registration Form from the U.S. Election Assistance Commision.
- Attach voter registration forms to course registration forms or distribute them with course registration materials.
- Include voter registration information in paychecks, with student loan disbursements, and in course catalogs. See Oxy Votes from Occidental College.
- Mass mail voter registration forms and online registration links to all students.
- Encourage faculty to distribute voter registration materials in class.
- Direct students to LongDistanceVoter for absentee ballot optons.
- Leave voice messages before key deadlines or registration-related events to remind students to register.
- Announce reminders in unusual places (halftime of athletic games, intermission of performances, post information in the restroom (even in the stalls, especially in freshman dorm building) -- Download free templates!
- Use community-based service projects as opportunities to register community members. NC A&T reached over 12,000 students, staff, faculty, and community members through these and other efforts in 2008.
- Build a coalition to spread out the work, creating a core group of administrators, faculty, and staff to coordinate this and related campus election-engagement efforts and to ensure key people are talking with each other across different departments and disciplines. See San Francisco State University’s program for ideas.
- Request and obtain on campus polling stations like University of Arizona and University of Akron in 2008.
- Approach key campus leaders to talk about what they can do to register students. Include deans, orientation directors, student affairs officers, service learning coordinators, registrars, IT departments, residence life, campus newspaper advisors, faculty development, coaches, and academic departments.
- See the campaign toolkit from the Non-Profit VOTE's Campaign Starter Kit to integrate voter engagement into your organization's ongoing activities and services.
- Conduct "dorm storms" where student organizations go door to door to register voters on residential campuses. (This requires residence life, student activities, and campus security coordinating to waive normal security rules.)
- Work with your service learning center to encourage students doing off-campus service projects to register the communities they work with, and to connect the non-profits through which they volunteer with key resources like those offered by nonprofitvote.org.
- Hold a party in which students must register at the door to enter - Have registration tables available, but use clipboards for a more personal, one-to-one approach. Use music to attract attention. If you wear organization t-shirts to events you can just tell people to see the individuals in those t-shirts, for example. Print stickers to identify those who have registered. Download the free sticker template.
- Plan to register students at Fall orientation and move-in day to campus dorms.