This summer and fall CVP is writing profiles of colleges and universities and their efforts to educate students about voter registration, casting a ballot and developing democratic engagement. These campuses are a part of the Voter Friendly Campus designation project offered by CVP and NASPA.
Miami University’s regional campus in Hamilton, Ohio provides diverse civic opportunities for students, geared toward preparing them for life outside college and connecting them to the Butler County community.
The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) trains student volunteers who do voter registration drives at least once a week until the registration deadline. Students hand out sample ballots and encourage students check their registration status on laptops. The CCE then delivers all local registration forms to the Butler County Board of Elections.
Miami Hamilton believes students should feel confident at the polls. Each election year, Miami Hamilton partners with the board of elections to bring voting machines to campus for a mock election. Students receive sample ballots, voter registration forms, and poll worker signup sheets. Miami Hamilton also hosts a moderated forum for local candidates. Open to the general public, this February’s event drew a large crowd and attracted candidates for congressional and state legislative races. Miami Hamilton records the forum and airs it on their local channel, TV Hamilton, before Election Day. In addition, Miami Hamilton offers two forums on ballot issues, which voters often know less about. Moderated by staff members, the forums provide voters both sides of the issue and allow them to ask questions. Miami Hamilton also hosts debate and State of the Union watch parties after which students hold post-debate discussion sessions.
For students looking to play an active role in the election, CCE held its first Civic Volunteer Fair in January. Students met with local candidates and learned how they could intern or volunteer for campaigns. CCE plans to host another in the fall.
My favorite event is Citizenship & Democracy Week, which runs through Constitution Day. Co-hosted by the CCE and the Department of Justice and Community Studies, the week is designed to foster discussion and reflection about students’ obligations as citizens. Last year, Miami Hamilton hosted a session of the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals and a lecture by Campus Election Engagement Project founder, Paul Loeb. On the quad, students and the general public watched as 72 immigrants became naturalized citizens.