Suggestions for Hiring College Students for Voter Engagement

Posted by Bowdoin College on December 10, 2019

Andrew Lardie ( at Bowdoin College recently shared this information on the HE-SVE (Higher Education, Student Voter Engagement) Forum:

Below are the 2 job descriptions I’ve used most recently. The first one, “Election Engagement Fellow” is a 4-hr-per-week intern. The other, “Democracy Ambassador” are foot soldiers that focused on tabling around campus. Also below that is a proposed student staff structure for 2020-21. It describes a revised role for the Democracy Ambassadors, more focused on outreach in residence halls.

Election Engagement Fellow – Job Responsibilities:      

The McKeen Fellow for Election Engagement will work with student, staff and faculty stakeholders on campus so that Bowdoin students can easily 1) decide where to register, 2) learn about the issues, and 3) get to the polls on Election Day.  The fellow will continue ongoing efforts to assemble a non-partisan get-out-the-Bowdoin-vote apparatus that will be mobilized in 2019 and beyond.  Tasks will include updating the Bowdoin Votes social media accounts, planning events and recruiting volunteers, and researching candidates and electoral topics to develop voting resources.

This position will begin late in spring 2019, and resume again in the fall for the entire 2019-20 academic year. The Election Engagement Fellow works 4 hours per week in office during the academic year, and may choose to schedule additional time outside of office hours for meetings, correspondence, or related tasks.  In the fall semester, the fellow will have to attend occasional program events (eg debate-viewing parties) but will be compensated for the time.

The EE Fellows will work collaboratively; however, the majority of tasks will consist of independent projects. The EE Fellows may be asked to focus on social media tasks or administrative and research-based tasks.

Job Skills and Qualifications: The EE Fellow must be on campus for the entire 2019-2020 academic year. The Election Engagement Fellow must be highly organized, self-motivated, a strategic thinker, and a clear, patient communicator.  Proficiency with spreadsheets, graphic design software, and social media are very helpful.

Democracy Ambassador – Job Responsibilities :  

DA’s help students 1) decide where to vote, 2) get registered, 3) request their absentee ballot, 4) learn about the issues on the ballot, and 5) complete and submit their ballot.

DA’s support students in learning about other ways to be involved in civic life, and can suggest apps and web tools that facilitate democratic engagement.  Democracy Ambassadors identify the best times and places (usually campus events) to visit with Votemobile, to make its services accessible to as much of the student body as possible.

Additional responsibilities include:

  • Browse campus calendars to Identify prospective events to table at, and correspond with campus groups/departments to gain permission for tabling.
  • Responsibly pick up, set up, user, return and re-stock the VoteMobile and all its contents for each of your shifts.  This involves lifting weights up to 20 lbs and pulling a heavy wheeled cart
  • Project a helpful, cheerful, patient demeanor when tabling
  • Provide efficient, accurate answers to questions about the voting process
  • Guide students through the process of getting ready to vote, including using appropriate web resources, and looking up/contacting organizations or election officials as needed.
  • Check completed forms for accuracy and completeness before letting a student walk away
  • Maintain a regular schedule of availability to host the VoteMobile on particular days/evenings. Can also add or help out with shifts at times other than your scheduled times.

Job Skills and Qualifications:

  • Attention to detail is crucial for both learning how to help students navigate the voting process in all 50 states, and for checking their work when forms are completed.
  • Excellent time management is necessary to follow through of your commitment.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills (not to be confused with Extraversion) are necessary to attract passersby to learn about Bowdoin Votes, and to provide satisfying service.
  • Enthusiasm for democracy and a desire to learn about modes of democratic and political participation. Deep knowledge is NOT pre-requisite for this job.
  • Democracy Ambassadors do NOT need to be eligible to vote themselves.

Shifts/Days per Week: Shifts will be available every weeknight (flexible but usually ~7-9pm), and on weekends (daytime and/or night). DA’s can also help out with shifts outside their schedule, and will be asked to pitch in if they can on BV’s planned day-long tabling drives.

===  Proposed structure & roles for 2020-21 (not adopted) ===

Bowdoin Votes organization structure

  • 2 admin Fellows (per current plan)
  • 1 Democracy Organizing Fellow (see below)
  • 4 Democracy Ambassadors (DAs), ~400-550 student each. Jurisdictions:1) Bricks, 2) Houses, 3) upperclass EAST, 4) upperclass WEST
  • Volunteers within each jurisdiction (recruited by DAs)

DA weekly duties/hours breakdown (approximate)

  • 2 hours walking floors & tracking voters
  • 2 hours email w/ volunteers & voters
  • 2 hours tabling/events
  • 1 hour mtg w/ DAs & Fellow [during a meal]

Democracy Ambassador Duties

  • Help staff BV tabling and events
  • Coordinate & execute GOTV efforts in jurisdiction
  • Recruit & supervise volunteers from each residence hall in yr jurisdiction
  • Attempt to track residents’ voter status in your jurisdiction
  • Keep weekly journal w/ update on activities, successes & challenges.

Democracy Organizing Fellow’s duties

  • Recruit, train & supervise DA’s
  • Train volunteers (supervised by DAs)
  • Track/intervene w/ volunteers & voters (databases)

Volunteer roles

  • Canvass residence halls to engage voters
  • Help staff BV tabling and events



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