Empowering Campuses to Engage Students in the Democratic Process

Posted by ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge on November 7, 2023

All of us working in higher education know that today’s college students are plugged in and passionate about creating social change—online, in their communities and at the ballot box. The 2022 midterm elections saw the second-highest youth voter turnout for a midterm in almost three decades, and GenZ voters are turning out at higher rates than previous generations.

But there is still work to be done. Even though youth voter turnout reached a near-record high in 2022, more than three-quarters of young people did not vote. Young voters, especially college students, face barriers that include a patchwork of state voter ID laws, a lack of information about where and how to vote, and the need to rearrange their school or work schedule in order to vote.

Under the Higher Education Act, colleges and universities have a legal obligation to make a good-faith effort to help students register to vote. Our team at the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) is working to help institutions honor this commitment and ensure that every student has the ability to cast their ballot. ALL IN provides structure, support and recognition to nearly 1,000 institutions across the country (including more than 300 members of Campus Compact!) as they work to make nonpartisan democratic engagement a defining feature of campus life. Campuses who join ALL IN commit to creating a campus action plan to increase student voter registration and turnout, and receive support throughout the process. Campuses can participate with their peers as a part of our state, city, and athletic conference voting challenges, and learn from similar institutions as part of our communities of practice. ALL IN works with campus leaders like college presidents, faculty, and administrators to set the tone for their campuses by pledging to achieve full student voter participation. Finally, our nonpartisan voter hub at allintovote.org provides campuses and students with all of the information they need to register, find their polling place, and research what’s on their ballot.

Through their action plans, campuses are implementing multiple strategies to increase student voter registration and turnout. These can include setting up a custom voter registration portal for their campus, organizing nonpartisan student voting groups; implementing Ask Every Student strategies into existing campus systems like first-year courses and new student orientation; celebrating Civic Holidays like National Voter Registration Day, Voter Education Week, and Vote Early Day; sending text and email reminders to students about election deadlines and information; and so much more.

With a critical presidential election just around the corner, now is the moment for campuses to make a plan for how they will engage their student body around voting. The first opportunity for campuses to submit their 2024 action plans is coming up on December 15th. Not sure if your campus is ALL IN? Take a look at our participating campuses and encourage your campus to join us in 2024.

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