As HEA Turns 50, A Reflection on Voter Registration on College Campuses

by Kristen Muthig, Communications and Policy Manager Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the Higher Education Act (HEA). This landmark law helped improve higher education by providing federal resources to colleges and universities and offering loans and scholarships to students. Congress has repeatedly reauthorized the Act, and its policies and programs tremendously improved higher education in our country. In addition, the HEA also charges colleges and universities to distribute voter registration forms to students. Registration and voting is a strong indicator of overall student civic engagement, which many colleges and universities acknowledge as part of a well-rounded college education. Campus Vote Project and many other partner organizations have emphasized the obligation created by this section of the HEA to encourage campuses to do more to engage students in their broader campus communities by voting and participating in the elections process. Not only is it a good way for students to become active citizens, but by helping students register and understand how to access the ballot, colleges and universities can fulfill the charge set forth by the HEA. There are a variety of challenges to employing a robust campaign to engage student voters and follow the HEA requirement, but there are ways to overcome them. Challenge #1: Resources. Budgets are always tight. Taking advantage of online means like email, social media, and the college’s existing website and communications tools are a cost-effective way to deliver voting and civic engagement messages. Students are often first time voters and new to the process and may not understand the different rules, deadlines, and avenues for registering and voting. Sending reminders, links to forms,...

Understand the Ballot and Make Sure You are Prepared to Vote

by Kristen Muthig, Communications and Policy Manager CVP posted our Six Reasons to Vote last week highlighting some reasons students in particular should be sure to cast a ballot tomorrow, November 3. This Election Day many states and cities have local issues and candidates on the ballot. They may not have as much media buzz and excitement as a presidential campaign, but that doesn’t make them any less important. The direct impact local politics has on everyday life is a significant reason to cast a ballot tomorrow. In reality, the people who will sit on school boards and city council, or as mayor and state representative will make more decisions that directly, and at times immediately, impact the cities or towns we live in than state or nationwide officials will. Many issues like funding for higher education, job training, business development, voting rules, and the condition of parks, libraries, roads, and bridges we all use are in the purview of local officials. Despite their influence on daily life, a lack of information about the offices, the issues, and even how to cast a ballot can deter young people from voting in these crucial elections. Depending on the state and community there can be different sources for information on the candidates and issues. However, groups like the League of Women Voters regional offices often have nonpartisan voting guides (you can find them online at www.Vote411.org), secretaries of state may explain what the issues are like this one in Ohio, and local newspapers often have information on what you’ll see on the ballot. Before casting an informed ballot, voters must also...