Higher Education Voter Registration Resources

Posted by HE-SVE Forum on April 28, 2020

Recent posts on the HE-SVE (Higher Education-Student Voter Engagement) Forum identified resources for efforts that promote voter registration particularly for college students. Here are links and info from the posts:

Rock the Vote – https://www.rockthevote.org/programs-and-partner-resources/tech-for-civic-engagement/

Any campus is welcome to use the StudentVote.org tool for free. We’ve built it on RtV’s tool. You can customize the tool with your logo, embed it into websites, etc – https://studentpirgs.org/forms-sp-get-our-online-voter-registration-tool/.

Vote.org – https://www.vote.org/technology/

TurboVote is a website that provides voter registration assistance, vote-by-mail request assistance, and election notifications and reminders for all 50 states.  Anyone can sign up on our public site at turbovote.org, and you can share that link broadly if you’d like! We also partner with colleges and universities directly with some additional benefits. More info, contact Nicole Costa at nicole@democracyworks.org. At least one college has had TurboVote built into their college websites, allowing them, for example, to have a numerator and denominator for student who have registered, and to undertake other interventions to support student voting.

There’s immense value in using digital strategies, right now especially! One example is how the University of Chicago signed up about 80% of undergraduate students for TurboVote by incorporating it into a mandatory online process, similar to bottleneck methods for in-person engagement.

Ask Every Student: If you are trying to think of ways to integrate Voter Registration into your campus, you should consider looking into Ask Every Student. They use the framework that full student voter participation comes from integrating person-to-person voter registration into existing processes, such as orientation or classes that reach all students (and there is funding available!) You can take the first step form here.

Students Learn Students Vote: Any strategy for voter engagement should be considered and executed as it fits the landscape and needs of the college or university’s community, and it’s important to ensure we’re tracking data and evaluating impact for both in-person and online efforts. I’ll shout out Strengthening American Democracy as a resource to help guide and serve as a framework for campuses in making and adapting their plans for this year.

Suggestions from Caryn Musil at AAC&U: See also The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts under Nancy Thomas.  It collects data under its NSLVE initiative (which does cost money to track your campus students’ voting habits—see website), but has also done research on the more than 1,000 NSLVE campuses to see what makes a difference in voting and political engagement overall.  See the report from IDHE called Election Imperatives, driven by IDHE but enriched and endorsed by the Civic Learning and Democracy Engagement Action Network, convened by AAC&U to promote the recommendations from A Crucible Moment: Civic Learning and Democracy’s Future.   

Also see CIRCLE at Tufts which tracks youth voting.  That includes more than college students unlike Nancy’s data but has lots of research on voting patterns and initiatives to increase it.  See also the new Youth Data Tool to find out patterns of voting and what contributes to it which might be useful to you in upstate New York.  CIRCLE is also a member of the CLDE Action Network.


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